Protests spread in Illinois over the police killing of teenager

The shooting of the 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette and his partner in a Chicago suburb has prompted massive protests across the state of Illinois

October 23, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch

The Illinois State Police, on Thursday, October 22, announced opening an investigation into a recent police shooting in the city of Waukegan, a suburb of Chicago. The police officer, who has not been named yet, opened fire at a car carrying 19-year-old black man Marcellis Stinnette and his partner Tafarra Willams, killing Stinnette and injuring Williams. The officer will be put under administrative leave during the investigations.

The shooting prompted city-wide outrage with more than a 100 protesters reaching the Waukegan police station within hours after Stinette’s death. The families of both Stinnette and Williams, who have a child together, have questioned the police version of the incident and expressed their doubts about the fairness of the investigation being conducted by the State Police.

According to the version of events by Waukegan police, the car that was driven by Williams was stopped by the officer for investigation on Tuesday, near midnight. The car supposedly reversed towards the policeman as he approached it. The shooting was in response to this, with police stating that it was done “in fear for his safety.” Stinette succumbed to his wounds after he was taken to a hospital, while Williams is undergoing treatment.

The report also stated that, before the incident, another officer had also stopped the car for being “suspicious,” but the two fled while it was being investigated. But the police report makes no mention of the speed at which the car was approaching the officer who shot the two or why the car was halted for investigation. The report also stated that the car carried no arms or any contraband, which made the circumstances all the more suspect for the city’s residents.

Why’d you shoot me?

Many of the residents in the neighborhood where the shooting occurred were also present at the demonstration chanting “Why’d you shoot me?” Williams’ mother Clifftina Johnson was also present at the demonstration. “I want justice for her,” Johnson told the crowd, “I want the police to stop killing. You opened fire … for what? It’s not making sense to me. It’s not adding up.”

Satrese Stallworth, a relative of Stinnette, also spoke to the crowd gathered outside the police station. “The police cannot police the police, and they cannot investigate and they cannot give us fair justice. We are seeking that someone be held accountable because this looks like murder,” said Stallworth.

Charges are yet to be filed against the officer in question, who according to reports has been serving for over five years. The shooting is only the latest in a series of such incidents since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, nearly five months ago. Floyd’s killing prompted massive nationwide anti-racist demonstrations calling for defunding of police departments and accountability for police violence.