Attorneys representing a Black woman who was shot and wounded inside a vehicle by a suburban Chicago police officer who also fatally shot her 19-year-old boyfriend called the officer’s firing “a first step in police accountability”, but said they were pressing ahead with their own investigation of the shooting.
The Waukegan police chief, Wayne Walles, announced late on Friday the firing of the officer who killed Marcellis Stinnette, a Black man, and wounded Tafara Williams, 20. Walles said in a brief statement the male officer committed “multiple policy and procedure violations”.
No other details, including the officer’s name, were provided in the announcement, which came shortly after Lake county’s chief prosecutor said the FBI would join Illinois state police in investigating Tuesday’s shooting.
A protest rally and march were planned for Saturday in Waukegan, about 40 miles north of Chicago, to demand justice.
Authorities have said the shooting occurred following a traffic stop. The officer who shot the couple is Hispanic and had been with Waukegan police for five years.
Attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio M Romanucci, representing Williams, responded to the officer’s firing in a statement that also said they were moving forward “with our own investigation into the facts of this tragedy”.
“The firing of the officer involved in this week’s tragic and senseless shooting in Waukegan is a first step in police accountability, but does nothing to restore the life and health of the two young people involved,” they said.
Waukegan police have said Williams was driving and Stinnette was a passenger in a vehicle that fled a traffic stop conducted by a white officer late on Tuesday and that the vehicle was later spotted by another officer. Police said that as the second officer approached, the vehicle started moving in reverse and the officer feared for his safety and opened fire. No weapon was found in the vehicle.
Activists and relatives of the couple have demanded the release of police video of the shooting, which authorities say has been turned over to investigators.
Clyde McLemore, the head of the Lake county chapter of Black Lives Matter, is among those who have called for the video’s release and for a federal investigation. He said the Saturday afternoon protest and march were planned to demand a special prosecutor and for authorities to release the officer’s name.
“Whatever the FBI finds we want a special prosecutor brought in. We want the name of the police officer released because firing the police officer only allows him to go to another police department and get a job somewhere else and do this again,” McLemore said.
He said he and other activists also wanted the officer “arrested and prosecuted” and to face murder and attempted murder charges.
Activist Chris Blanks said on Thursday police video of the shooting was particularly important because the police version of events and the version Clifftina Johnson said her wounded daughter, Williams, shared with her appear to contradict each other. Johnson said her daughter told her Williams and her boyfriend had done nothing to provoke the officer.
The Lake county state’s attorney, Michael Nerheim, said on Friday he had asked the US justice department to review the circumstances surrounding the shooting, and said it agreed to do so. He urged calm while the investigation takes place and pledged transparency.
“As I have said before, once the investigation is concluded, all the evidence will be reviewed and a final decision will be made with respect to any potential charges,” Nerheim said.
A telephone message was left for the Waukegan police commander Edgar Navarro, asking if police planned to release the officer’s name and other details.
An email was also sent asking Nerheim’s spokesman if the office planned to release additional details in the shooting. And an email was sent to Illinois state police seeking updated information.