Videos Show Car Fleeing Before Fatal Waukegan Police Shooting

Waukegan Police Shooting Video
A still from a video released by the Waukegan, Ill. police department on Wednesday Oct. 28, 2020 shows the moments before police shot Tafara Williams and Marcellis Stinnette, killing Stinnette and leaving Williams injured. Waukegan Police Department
Waukegan Police Shooting Video
A still from a video released by the Waukegan, Ill. police department on Wednesday Oct. 28, 2020 shows the moments before police shot Tafara Williams and Marcellis Stinnette, killing Stinnette and leaving Williams injured. Waukegan Police Department

Videos Show Car Fleeing Before Fatal Waukegan Police Shooting

Videos connected to last week’s police shooting in Waukegan, Ill., show Tafara Williams fleeing from police in a car, with her boyfriend Marcellis Stinnette in the passenger seat, moments before an officer opened fire, wounding Williams and killing Stinnette.

None of the six videos released Wednesday by the city of Waukegan show the actual shooting itself, in part because the firing officer did not turn on his body worn camera until after the shooting.

Authorities have said the officer — who was fired last week and whose name hasn’t been released — opened fire out of fear for his safety because the couple’s car reversed toward him during a chase.

The newly released videos show the chase started after police tried to arrest Stinnette for outstanding warrants during a traffic stop and Williams sped off. The chase down darkened streets in the northern suburb ended when Williams drove the back of the car into a building.

While the videos do not show the positioning of the car nor the officer when shots were fired, it does appear that the officer was getting out of his police car as Williams was backing up in an attempt to get away.

The sound from the officer’s dashcam video indicates the officer fired approximately seven shots.

Williams, who is still in the hospital recovering from her injuries, has said that she and Stinnette did nothing wrong to provoke the shooting.

The involved officer was fired by the Waukegan Police Department, in part because of his failure to turn on his body camera before the shooting, a violation of department policy.

Antonio Romanucci, Williams’ attorney, said on Wednesday after viewing the videos that the officer’s version of events should be discredited because of his failure to turn on his camera.

“This police officer has zero — absolute zero — credibility,” Romanucci said. “There should be no weight given to his self-serving statement.”

Romanucci said based on the videos, and the physical damage to the passenger-side door of Williams’ car, that he believes the officer was facing the side of the car when he shot and, therefore, not in any danger of being hit.

After the officer turned on his body camera, an exchange can be heard between him and Williams.

“We didn’t do anything wrong!” Williams can be heard screaming, in obvious distress.

“I was right behind you and you almost tried to run me over!” the shooting officer shouts back from across the street.

Patrick Smith is a reporter on WBEZ’s Criminal Justice Desk. Follow him @pksmid. Email him at psmith@wbez.org.