Families Mourn, Demand Accountability At Vigil For Teen Killed By Waukegan Police

Relatives of George Floyd and Jacob Blake, two other Black men shot by police recently in Minneapolis and Kenosha, joined the Sunday vigil.

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Family members of Marcellis Stinnette, the teen fatally shot by police in Waukegan last week, gathered for a vigil in the northern suburb Sunday afternoon. María Inés Zamudio / WBEZ
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Family members of Marcellis Stinnette, the teen fatally shot by police in Waukegan last week, gathered for a vigil in the northern suburb Sunday afternoon. María Inés Zamudio / WBEZ

Families Mourn, Demand Accountability At Vigil For Teen Killed By Waukegan Police

Relatives of George Floyd and Jacob Blake, two other Black men shot by police recently in Minneapolis and Kenosha, joined the Sunday vigil.

Dozens of people prayed together Sunday afternoon during a vigil to remember the teen killed by Waukegan police and to support his wounded girlfriend, who is still in the hospital.

Marcellis Stinnette was killed and Tafara Williams was seriously injured Tuesday night when the officer fired at their car in the northern suburb. The couple is Black.

“God is directing this,” Satrese Stallworth, Stinnette’s relative, said during the vigil, which took place near the site of the shooting. “Marcellis’ life was stolen on Tuesday. On Friday there was an officer terminated. That speaks volumes.”

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Sasha Williams, center, speaks out Sunday on behalf of her sister Tafara Williams, who was shot by Waukegan police last week. María Inés Zamudio / WBEZ

Waukegan police fired the officer involved in the shooting on Friday. In a statement, Waukegan’s police chief said the officer had been terminated for “multiple policy and procedure violations.”

Stallworth asked supporters to give the Illinois State Police time to investigate the shooting. And she said she hopes the FBI also reviews the case. The Lake County state’s attorney on Friday said the FBI had agreed to review the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

But if no one is charged, Stallworth said, the community will have to hold elected officials accountable.

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During Sunday’s vigil, a relative of George Floyd, who was killed by Minneapolis police, holds hands with a relative of Marcellis Stinnette. María Inés Zamudio / WBEZ

The vigil included relatives of two other Black men who were shot by police recently — George Floyd and Jacob Blake. When Stallworth became emotional, Floyd’s uncle, Cortez Rice, held her hand. Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police in May.

Justin Blake stood close too. Only 15 miles away, his nephew Jacob Blake was left paralyzed after being shot by Kenosha police three months ago.

“You should be glad your mayor came out,” Justin Blake said. “Our mayor still hasn’t met with our family.”

They said they know what the families are and how difficult it is to grieve a loved one while trying to hold police accountable.

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Mourners left messages for Marcellis Stinnette during the vigil for the teen on Sunday. María Inés Zamudio / WBEZ

Waukegan police have said that the officer, who is Hispanic and a five-year-veteran of the force, shot into the car because it started rolling toward him. But family members said the story didn’t add up. Neither Williams nor Stinnette were armed.

Stinnette’s cousin, Breanna Marcellis Stallworth said she didn’t understand why police shot him. She said Stinnette was recovering from a car accident two months ago where he broke his hip, arm and wrist. He couldn’t walk without crutches.

“He couldn’t get out of the car, run or escape,” she said. “He couldn’t move.”

Stallworth said she is devastated by the loss of her cousin. She said Stinette was happy with his girlfriend, Tafara Williams, and their seven-month-old baby. They were planning a fresh start for their family, she said.

Jennifer Rodriguez attended the vigil on Sunday to support Williams’ father.

She said she understands how he feels because she said police choked her 16-year-old son.

“It pains my heart but I thank God my son didn’t die,” Rodriguez said. “He was traumatized but he’s alive.”

María Inés Zamudio is a reporter for WBEZ’s Race, Class and Communities desk. Follow her @mizamudio.

An earlier version of a headline for this story incorrectly stated that Jacob Blake had been killed by police. He was shot by police and is paralyzed.