State Watch

Illinois mayor says video will be released in police shooting of Black couple

The mayor of Waukegan, Ill., said Sunday that videos showing a police officer fatally shooting a Black man and wounding a Black woman are expected to be released this week.

Mayor Sam Cunningham said during a Sunday prayer vigil for Marcellis Stinnette, the 19-year-old killed in the shooting last week, that the city plans to release squad car and body camera footage related to the shooting after the victim's family views them.

"After a determination is made that the release of the relevant videos will not prejudice or adversely impact the integrity of the ongoing state and federal investigations, the City of Waukegan intends to release these recordings to the public at large, after the families are first able to view them," Cunningham said in a Sunday statement obtained by The Hill.

"Let's be clear, this situation requires their approval before we move on," he said at a vigil, the Chicago Tribune reported

Cunningham said the city plans to release the video before Thursday, the deadline for a Freedom of Information Act request. He requested the public to "respect the process" after protests ensued in the days after the shooting. 

A Waukegan Police Department officer shot at Stinnette and his girlfriend Tafara Williams late on Oct. 20 after police said they fled a traffic stop, resulting in Stinnette's death and Williams's hospitalization for wounds in the abdomen and arm. 

The police chief on Friday fired the unnamed officer, identified as a Hispanic man who has been with the department for five years, for "multiple policy and procedural violations," Cunningham said in his statement.

The officer said he shot at the vehicle out of fear for his safety after the car started backing up toward him. But Williams told her mother that the couple, who have an infant boy, did not do anything to provoke the shooting. 

Police said a Waukegan patrol officer, who is white and also has been in the department for five years, was investigating a vehicle when it fled. Another officer found the vehicle and started to approach it before shooting his semi-automatic weapon into the car. There was no firearm found in the vehicle. 

The FBI joined Illinois's investigation into the case last week after County State Attorney Michael Nerheim requested the bureau's assistance. 

Cunningham said he welcomed the federal investigations "in an effort to provide our community with transparency and confidence in the integrity of their findings."

Activist Chris Blanks said the video is important as the police and Williams's accounts appear to contradict each other, according to the Associated Press.

-Updated at 8:46 p.m.

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