Watch Waukegan police video: Only moments before, after Black couple were shot are captured

  • Marcellis Stinnette, 19, of Waukegan was shot and killed by Waukegan police, Oct. 20.

    Marcellis Stinnette, 19, of Waukegan was shot and killed by Waukegan police, Oct. 20. Courtesy of Clyde McLemore

  • This image of Tafara Williams, right, and Marcellis Stinnette, left, shows their initial Oct. 20 encounter with Waukegan police just before midnight. Soon after, Williams was badly injured and Stinnette was killed by another officer who shot at them seven times.

    This image of Tafara Williams, right, and Marcellis Stinnette, left, shows their initial Oct. 20 encounter with Waukegan police just before midnight. Soon after, Williams was badly injured and Stinnette was killed by another officer who shot at them seven times. Still from video courtesy of Waukegan Police Department

 
 
Updated 10/29/2020 7:48 AM

The city of Waukegan has released dashcam and bodycam videos of the deadly encounter between a police officer and a young Black couple that has sparked protest rallies, prayer vigils and calls for justice for the past week.

The six videos offer a narrative of the initial stop, chase and shooting that left 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette dead and seriously injured his 20-year-old girlfriend, Tafara Williams, just before midnight Oct. 20. But there is no crucial body camera footage taken from the officer at the time he shot the couple.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"The body-worn camera of the officer involved was not activated to properly archive the time of the shooting," Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham said in a statement Wednesday. "This was a breach of Waukegan Police Department policies, and one of the reasons for the officer's termination."

What happened immediately before and after the fatal shooting is captured.

Stinnette and Williams were sitting in a car when they first came in contact with Waukegan police around 11:57 p.m. An officer, identified as Officer 1, identifies Stinnette and tells him he's under arrest.

Williams can be heard asking why.

"Because I said," the officer responds, crossing from Williams' window to the passenger's side of the car to get closer to Stinnette.

"Hey, come on, show me the hands, pal," the officer says to Stinnette, shining a flashlight at his face. "I ain't playing with you, 'cause I know you. Marcellis, you're under arrest."

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When Williams asks again for an explanation, the officer said Stinnette has a warrant. The city did not say whether that was true, and police referred questions on that to city attorneys.

After a few moments, Williams revs the engine and drives away, and the officer exclaims, "Hey, they just ran me over!"

The first officer and the second officer can be seen trying to stop Williams in two dashboard videos released by the city. Instead of stopping when the two squad cars approach her car, Williams swerves and continues heading south on South Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.

Police dashcam video shows her attempt to turn right onto Helmholz Avenue, then go off the road. The second officer, identified as Officer 2, is driving behind Williams and Stinnette and stops next to where their car went off the road. Williams appears to be trying to reverse the car back onto the road so she can continue driving away.

The video shows that in the span of five seconds, the second officer opens his door, shouts, "Get out of the car!" and fires seven shots at the car. The officer and gunfire are only heard, off the camera's view.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Another camera, from atop a nearby business, shows that after the shooting, Williams kept reversing the car and crashed into a building on the northeast side of the intersection of Helmholz Avenue and South Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.

Officer 2's body camera did not capture the shooting, but it did begin recording soon after. In that video, the first words heard is the officer shouting to Williams, who is still in the car after it had crashed into a building.

"I was right behind you and you almost tried to run me over," Officer 2 shouts from the intersection.

"Why did he shoot us? Why did he shoot us?" Williams can be heard crying from the car.

Soon, other officers arrive and go to Williams' car. One officer can be heard asking Williams who shot them.

"I did," Officer 2 said. "They almost ran me over."

By releasing the videos, the city fulfills a pledge Cunningham made during a Sunday prayer vigil that videos would be released after the Stinnettee's family had viewed it.

"I promised we would work with the families, the independent investigators, and the public to provide all details in a swift and impartial manner," Cunningham said in a statement Wednesday. "We are all hurting as a result of this incident, and while I intend to allow justice to run its course and not compromise the integrity of the process, I must balance that with my commitment to the families and the community to always maintain transparency."

Waukegan police said initially an officer fired into the couple's vehicle in self-defense after Williams started reversing as the officer walked toward it. Police said the officer, who is Hispanic and a five-year veteran of the force, feared for his life.

The officer was fired by the department Friday for committing "multiple policy and procedure violations," according to Police Chief Wayne Walles.

Williams said from her hospital bed Tuesday that she and Stinnette had their hands up while the officer was shooting at them.

"I kept asking him why, why he was shooting," Williams said, adding, "More officers came and were pointing their guns at us. My blood was gushing out of my body."

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