Ex-Waukegan cop who shot, killed 19-year-old Black man in 2020 faces murder charges
The former Waukegan police officer who shot and killed 19-year-old Black man Marcellis Stinnette on Oct. 20, 2020, has been charged with three counts of second-degree murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter in the young man's death, authorities said Thursday.
Dante Salinas turned himself in to authorities Thursday morning and a judge set his bond at $350,000. By Thursday afternoon, Salinas was in the process of paying 10% of the bond -- $35,000 -- to be released from jail while his trial is pending, said Lake County Sheriff's Office Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli.
Stinnette's shooting came just weeks after an officer in nearby Kenosha, Wisconsin, shot and wounded a Black man, Jacob Blake, which led to several nights of protests that sometimes were violent. The Waukegan shooting also sparked protests and led the police department to quickly fire Salinas for what it described at the time as "multiple policy and procedure violations," The Associated Press reports.
According to dashcam and bodycam videos of the deadly encounter, within a span of five seconds Salinas fired seven shots at a car being driven by Stinnette's 20-year-old girlfriend, Tafara Williams. Williams also was struck by Salinas' shots and was seriously injured, the videos show.
State's Attorney Eric Rinehart said Thursday his office has worked on the case since the Illinois State Police completed the bulk of their investigation into the shooting in February 2021. Rinehart said his office studied the evidence including video footage, the car Williams was driving, and the bullets fired by Salinas.
Video evidence released by Waukegan police shortly after the shooting in 2020 shows Williams and Stinnette were sitting in their car just before midnight on Oct. 20, 2020, when a different Waukegan police officer came up to them, identified Stinnette and told him he was under arrest.
Video shows Williams drove away from the first officer and headed south. While Williams tried to turn right onto Helmholz Avenue, her car left the roadway and came to a stop.
Salinas, who was pursuing the duo in his squad car, stopped near Williams' car at around the same time Williams put her car into reverse to get back on the road, the video shows.
Though Salinas did not have his body camera on, other video and audio recorders show within 5 seconds he opened his door, shouted "get out of the car!" and fired seven shots at the car.
Williams also was charged Wednesday with fleeing from police. She turned herself in on Thursday and a judge assigned her a $50,000 recognizance bond, which means she only will go to jail before trial if she violates a condition of her bond. Her next court date is Nov. 17.
Salinas also is charged with aggravated battery for using excessive force against a Waukegan man in August 2019. Rinehart said Salinas used a Taser, tackled and punched the man, who suffered a broken eye socket.
Salinas is due back in court Nov. 15.