A police officer in Illinois fatally shot a Black teen earlier this week, inspiring protests in the city of Waukegan and widespread calls for the Department of Justice to intervene on the investigation.
19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette, according to preliminary autopsy results, "died from injuries due to a gunshot" fired by a Waukegan cop who's Hispanic and a five-year member of the force. According to a report from the Daily Herald, a regional publication, the Waukegan officer in question has argued that his decision to fire into a vehicle just before midnight on Tuesday was an act of self-defense.
The police department has also claimed that the vehicle had "started reversing" at the time of the shooting, though the driver of the vehicle—identified by police only a a woman in her 20s and later confirmed to be Stinnette's girlfriend Tafara Williams—stated definitively that the officer opened fire without cause.
In fact, Williams and another witness have said that the officer actually "rammed" the vehicle prior to the shooting. Prior to the shooting, another officer is said to have been looking into what cops claim was "a suspicious vehicle" that ultimately drove away before being noticed a few minutes later by the second officer.
The second officer, who has since been placed on administrative leave, fired a semi-automatic pistol into the vehicle. Stinnette was transported to a nearby hospital, where he died. The driver, Williams, was also hit and hospitalized.
"When I got there, she said, 'Momma, they just shot us for nothing,'" Williams' mother Clifftina Johnson said of the fatal shooting, per CBS News. "My daughter said she put her hand up and if she didn't put her hand up, she said 'Momma, I would be dead.'"
Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham, who was friends with the families of both victims, told the Chicago Sun-Times that the ongoing situation is "horrific" but he would do his best to lead the city through it.
"The sooner these families can get information from this investigation, the better everybody will be," Cunningham said.