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Black teen killed, woman injured in Illinois police shooting that leaves families wanting answers

A Waukegan police officer fired his gun after a vehicle he was approaching began to reverse, police said. No gun was found in the car, and the families of the two shot are seeking answers.

A Black teen was killed and a young Black woman injured in a police shooting in Illinois that authorities said is under investigation and which has left families of the pair seeking answers.

The shooting occurred Tuesday night just before midnight in Waukegan, 42 miles north of Chicago, police said.

A Waukegan police officer "was investigating an occupied vehicle," when the vehicle fled, police said in a news release Wednesday.

Moments later, a second officer spotted the vehicle in a nearby area. As the second officer got out of his vehicle and approached, the car began to move in reverse and the officer fired "in fear of his safety," according to the news release.

Police said the driver, a Black female in her 20s, was hospitalized with serious injuries, but is expected to recover.

The passenger, Marcellis Stinnette, 19, died of his gunshot injuries, the Lake County coroner said in releasing preliminary autopsy findings on Thursday.

"We have been in close contact with Mr. Stinnette's family and our deepest condolences go out to them during this difficult time," the coroner, Howard Cooper, said in a statement. "This is truly a tragedy."

The woman who was injured in the shooting was identified by family members as Tafara Williams, according to NBC Chicago and The Associated Press.

Police said no weapons were found in the car.

It is not clear why the first officer was investigating the occupied vehicle. In an email Thursday responding to NBC News, Waukegan police Cmdr. Edgar Navarro did not answer a question about the reason for the investigation.

The department's officers and squad cars are all equipped with cameras, police said. It was unclear what video exists of the shooting, and Navarro said Thursday there is no timeline as to when footage will be released.

The Illinois State Police will lead the investigation into the incident, according to the police statement.

The officer who fired the shot was Hispanic, and the first officer who investigated the vehicle was white, police said.

The officers involved in the incident will be placed on administrative leave due to there being an active investigation, police said.

At a press conference Wednesday, Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham said hearing about the shooting was painful.

“I know this family personally. Their great-grandmother used to babysit me,” he said. “To be able to speak to them about this — yeah, it hurts.”

He added: “I’m a Black man who grew up in that same neighborhood. It could have been me.”

Families told NBC Chicago they want answers and justice.

“They were not thugs. They were not problematic kids,” Ricky Carly, whom NBC Chicago identified as a family spokesman, told the outlet. “They didn’t have any issues with anybody out here.”

“We’re looking for peace and justice. That’s all we want,” Francellise Stinnette-Watts, the great aunt of Marcellis, said. “We want to know what happened. We would like to see the video cam.”

A protest against the shooting is scheduled for Thursday afternoon, according to the Lake County chapter of Black Lives Matter.