Body camera footage released by Waukegan, Illinois, police shows the moments before the police shooting that killed a Black man and wounded a woman last week.
Police released footage Wednesday of the fatal October 20 encounter that wounded Tafara Williams and killed her boyfriend, 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette. The shooting occurred just before midnight after an officer “was investigating an occupied vehicle,” and the car fled, police said in a news release last week.
Williams said in a news conference from her hospital bed Tuesday that she and Stinnette were sitting in their parked car to smoke shortly after putting their baby to bed when the officer pulled up behind them. The 20-year-old woman said she turned on the car’s cabin lights so the officer could see that she had “no weapons” and “wasn’t doing anything illegal.”
“Then he started harassing Marcellis, he stood near the car with his left hand on the gun and he said to Marcellis, ‘I know you from jail,'” Williams said.
The body camera footage released Wednesday did not show the officer approaching the vehicle but began when he asked for the couple’s names. It was unclear what happened before the video started recording.
The two-minute video starts as the officer asks whether Stinnette is “that dude that got in an accident” and then asks their name.
It sounds as if Stinnette tells the officer that his name is King, and the officer responds, “I thought you were one of the Stinnette kids” and approaches the car. The officer asks if his name is Marcellis, and then informs him he is under arrest.
“Why?” Williams is heard asking in the video.
“Because I said,” the officer said.
Williams said Tuesday she asked if they were free to leave or under arrest. She said she began to drive away as the officer stepped away from her car to make a cellphone call.
In the body camera footage, the officer can be heard telling Stinnette three times that he is under arrest. The second time, the officer says Stinnette “got a warrant.”
The footage shows the officer telling Stinnette to exit the vehicle, with his hand on the car, when Williams speeds off.
“Hey, they just ran me over,” the officer shouts as the car drives away. It’s unclear from the video whether the car made any contact with the officer.
In dash camera footage from a second officer, the officer who fired the shots, Williams is seen turning out in front of the police car and driving, with an officer in pursuit. About 20 seconds later, Williams appears to pull over on the grass and the officer pulls up beside her.
Williams’ car is only partially seen from the dash camera footage. It’s unclear whether the officer exits his patrol car when Williams pulls over, but he can be heard yelling, “get out of the f——-” before Williams’ car begins to reverse.
An engine roars and what sounds like six shots are fired before tires squeal and a crash is heard, based on the audio from the dash camera. There was no footage released Wednesday that showed the shots being fired.
Additional video from nearby two security cameras show only the moment Williams begins to reverse and the moment she crashes into a building. The officer is not in the frame of either additional security video.
“There was a crash, and I lost control. The officer was shooting at us. The car ended up slamming into a building. I kept screaming, ‘I don’t have a gun!’ but he kept shooting,” Williams said. The audio from the video does not make clear whether Williams made the statements as the officer fired.
Body camera footage from the second officer picks up after the shooting, with the officer standing across the street from Williams and Stinnette, who remain in the car near a building. That video begins with Williams yelling that the couple “didn’t do anything wrong” at the officer who fired the shots.
“I was right behind you and you almost tried to run me over,” the officer yells.
Backup officers arrive and begin asking what happened and who was shot. At one point, Williams yells, “why did you shoot us” and “all I did was reverse.” Her attention then turns to Stinnette.
“He got shot, he got shot,” Williams yelled. “Please help.”
The Waukegan Police Department confirmed that Stinnette was transported to the hospital, where he later died. No weapons were found in the vehicle, police said.
Neither officer involved in the incident has been identified by authorities. The officer who shot the couple was Hispanic, and the officer who investigated the vehicle was white, according to police.
The officer said in his account that he got out of his car, but the vehicle began to reverse and the officer fired “in fear of his safety,” according to a police news release last week. He was terminated for multiple policy and procedure violations, Waukegan Police Chief Wayne Walles said at the time.
The s body-worn camera of the officer who fired was not activated to properly archive the time of the shooting, Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham said in a statement with the footage release Wednesday.
“This was a breach of Waukegan Police Department policies, and one of the reasons for the officer’s termination,” the mayor said.
Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim said he asked the U.S. Justice Department to “review the circumstances surrounding” the shooting. Once the independent investigation is completed, it will be turned over to the state’s attorney’s office for review.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing Williams, said the video clips were evidence of “police creating a false narrative.”
“This presents an incredible obstacle to learning the truth in this tragic case,” Crump said in a statement. “Body cams act as an essential bridge between law enforcement and the public they are sworn to protect while helping ensure transparency and accountability, and building the trust that is still so painfully lacking.”