This week, protesters gathered to demand justice for Marcellis Stinnette and Tafarra Williams, a Black couple who was shot by Waukegan, Illinois police officers during a traffic stop on Tuesday (Oct. 20). Williams, a 20-year-old mother of two, was injured in the shooting, but 19-year-old Stinnette was killed.
Families and witnesses have now spoken out about the shooting, which police say occurred after Williams — who was driving — reversed her car toward one of the officers. Authorities say the incident began with a report about a “suspicious vehicle,” although the couple’s families say they were simply sitting in their car parked outside of Williams’ mother’s home.
Police say that when one officer approached the vehicle to investigate, Williams drove away. This has also been disputed by the family, who says cops allowed the couple to leave. Moments later, another officer approached the car on foot. After the car allegedly began backing toward him, he said he “feared for his safety” and opened fire.
Both cops have been placed on administrative leave and Williams remains in the hospital for her injuries. According to police, Stinnette, who shared a child with Williams, died at the hospital.
Now that both victims’ families and witnesses have spoked out about the shooting, questions have been raised about the police account. ABC 7 Chicago reports that Williams’ family says she was shot in the stomach and hand, which they found strange seeing as the officer claims to have shot at the car from behind.
One witness, Darrell Mosier, told the outlet: “The police officer got out of the car. When he told them to stop — he told her to stop — she was scared. She put her up hands, she started yelling, ‘Why you got a gun?’ She started screaming. He just started shooting.”
“I heard the girl. Her hands went up,” Mosier added during a protest on Thursday (Oct. 22). “She said, ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. I didn’t mean it. I didn’t try to run you over. We got no guns or nothing.’”
Speaking from her hospital bed, Williams asked the officer, “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?”
Police have said no weapons were found in the couple’s car and that an investigation has been opened by the Illinois State Police. Body camera footage from the shooting has been turned over to State Police.
Williams’ mother says she does not believe the police account and has hired an attorney to find the truth.
“The police officer; he’s forgiven,” Stinnette’s mother, Sheria, told ABC7. “I have to forgive him. That’s what God wants me to do.”
“We would like justice, but we also would like police reform,” added his sister.