Waukegan officials apologize to innocent teen charged in shooting

Associated Press
Updated 2/25/2022 5:51 PM
This story has been corrected to attribute some information to a news conference held by the teenager who was wrongly charged.

The mayor and the interim police chief of Waukegan apologized to a teenager who was wrongly charged with attempted murder in the shooting of a store clerk even though he was playing basketball for his high school at the time of the shooting.

In separate statements, Mayor Ann Taylor and interim Police Chief Keith Zupec on Thursday pointed to failures in the way the case was handled.


Police arrested 15-year-old Martell Williams at Waukegan High School days after the Feb. 4 shooting and told him that they would release him if he confessed, Williams said at a news conference this week. The teen said he did confess because he was afraid, the Lake County News-Sun reported.

Williams was charged with attempted murder on Feb. 16 and placed in juvenile detention, where he spent two days. He was released after investigators realized that he couldn't have taken part in the shooting because he was playing basketball at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire when it happened.

The teen "did not did not commit this crime, nor was he involved in this crime in any manner and he should not have been brought to the juvenile detention facility," Zupec said in his statement. He said the city and the Lake County state's attorney's office will review the matter.

Taylor said that as a mother, she was disappointed by the handling of the case.

"When I ran for mayor, I focused on ensuring that everyone in Waukegan is treated with dignity and respect. Unfortunately, in (the teen's) case, the city missed the mark," she said.

Police said the clerk was seriously wounded in the shooting.

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