Illinois police department fires officer who shot Black couple in car
An Illinois police chief announced Friday that an officer has been fired after they shot a Black couple sitting inside their car, killing one person and injuring the other.
Waukegan Police Chief Wayne Walles said in a brief statement that the city had terminated the officer “for multiple policy and procedure violations,” without providing more details or the naming the officer.
The announcement came shortly after Lake County’s chief prosecutor announced that the FBI would join Illinois State Police in investigating the shooting, which resulted in the death of 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette and left his girlfriend, Tafarra Williams, 20, injured.
State authorities had previously opened an investigation into wrongdoing by the officer in question, a five-year veteran of the suburban Chicago police force.
The FBI joined the efforts after Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim requested that the bureau review the circumstances surrounding the incident.
“I am certainly aware these situations are potentially volatile and elicit many emotions,” Nerheim said in a statement. “I strongly urge and hope for continued calm and patience as the investigation takes place.”
According to Waukegan police, an officer was investigating reports of a suspicious vehicle shortly before midnight on Tuesday. Authorities say the vehicle “fled” from the officer.
A second officer spotted the car a few minutes later, roughly half a mile away. According to the police account, the officer exited his patrol car and began approaching the vehicle when it started to reverse toward him.
The officer, “in fear for his safety,” then opened fire, Waukegan police allege.
Stinnette was fatally wounded, while Williams, who was driving the car, survived and underwent surgery after being shot in the stomach and hand, according to her family.
“Why did you shoot? I didn’t do nothing wrong. I have a license. You didn’t tell me I was under arrest. Why did you just flame up my car like that? Why did you shoot?” Williams asked from her hospital bed in a video obtained by local outlet WLS.
Waukegan Police Commander Edgar Navarro said in a news conference Wednesday that “there was no weapon that was recovered, but the vehicle was reversing towards the officer.”
The officer who opened fire is Hispanic and was placed on administrative leave before the announcement of their firing, police said.
The other officer, who initially approached the vehicle, is white and has since been placed on administrative leave, Navarro said.
The shooting set off a wave of protests on Thursday, as roughly 100 people gathered outside a Waukegan police station, according to the Chicago Sun Times.
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