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Woman shot in car by Illinois police says officers allowed boyfriend to die

Woman shot in car by Illinois police says officers allowed boyfriend to die
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A Black woman shot by Illinois police last week while in her car said Tuesday that officers allowed her boyfriend to die.

Tafara Williams, 20, recounted last week’s shooting in Waukegan, Ill., that resulted in her hospitalization and 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette’s death for the first time in a Tuesday Zoom call with reporters, The Associated Press reported

“They allowed him to die,” Williams said. “They wanted us to bleed out on the ground.”

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Williams told reporters that on Oct. 20, she was accompanied by Stinnette, who was also Black, while she smoked in her car to avoid smoking in front of their child. She said a white officer approached them, started to question her and told Stinnette she recognized him from when he was in jail.

She said she and Stinnette both raised their hands to show the officer they were unarmed before pulling away slowly. The officer did not follow them, but another officer appeared to be “waiting for us,” she said. 

“There was a crash and I lost control,” she said, according to the AP. “The officer was shooting at us. The car ended up slamming into a building. I kept screaming, ‘I don’t have a gun.’ But they kept shooting. He told me to get out of the car. I had my hands up, and I couldn’t move because I had been shot.”

Williams, who was recovering from gunshot wounds in the abdomen and arm, said she heard Stinnette breathing and pleaded with officers to take him to the hospital, but the police did not. 

“They laid Marcellis on the ground and covered him with a blanket while he was still breathing,” she said. “I know he was still alive and they took that away from me.”

Antonio Romanucci, one of Williams’s attorneys, said the officer “profiled these people because of the color of their skin."

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A representative from the Waukegan Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Williams’s account of the shooting. 

The Zoom press conference put together by Romanucci and national civil rights attorney Ben Crump came a week after the shooting.

Police fired the officer who shot at the couple, identified as a Hispanic man who has been with the department for five years, for “multiple policy and procedural violations.”

The department said a Waukegan patrol officer, who is white and also has been with the department for five years, was investigating a vehicle when it fled. The other officer found the car and started to approach it before shooting his semi-automatic weapon into the car.

That officer said he was in fear of his safety after the car started backing up toward him, but Williams has said the couple did not do anything to provoke the shooting. 

Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham said during a Sunday prayer vigil for Stinnette that the city intends to release squad car and body camera footage of the shooting after the victim’s family views them. 

Williams previously addressed the peaceful protesters, who have gathered in response to the shooting, in a call on Saturday saying she will not stop fighting for justice for her boyfriend.