Officers did not have physique cameras on throughout deadly taking pictures of Black teen, attorneys say

Officers didn't have body cameras on during fatal shooting of Black teen, attorneys say

Police officers did not have their body cameras turned on during the fatal shooting of Illinois teen Marcellis Stinnette, his family’s attorneys said Wednesday after viewing police video of the incident. Stinnette, 19, was killed by police on October 20 in a shooting that also left his girlfriend hospitalized with injuries.

“The event was not captured on video. Body-worn cameras that were available for this very purpose, for what we desire and seek, accountability, transparency, the truth, were not turned on until after the shooting occurred,” Attorney Antonio Romanucci said in a news conference Wednesday.

The police chief in Waukegan last week fired the officer over “multiple policy and procedure violations” just days after the shooting. Romanucci believes he was terminated for failing to have his body camera turned on. 

Romanucci also said the officer turned his body camera on immediately after the shooting and said, “You tried to run me over.” The attorneys claimed the comment was an “intentional” effort to create a false narrative. 

Police have said an officer was “investigating an occupied vehicle” when the couple fled the scene on October 20. Later, a second officer spotted and approached their vehicle, which they said began moving in reverse toward him. The officer said he fired his semi-automatic pistol out of fear for his safety.

Stinnette was located in the passenger seat and was hit several times by bullets. He died of his wounds at a local hospital. Tafara Williams, who was in the driver seat, was also struck and is still in the hospital being treated for her wounds. 

After viewing the footage, attorneys disputed that the officer feared for his safety. “I don’t see any basis at all for this officer to have pulled out his gun and shot as many times as he did in this car, wounding Tafara and killing Marcellis,” Romanucci said. 

The shooting is under investigation by Illinois State Police and the FBI. “You guys took away my only brother, from my mother,” said Dhanellis Banks, Stinnette’s older sister. “This is not fair. He was innocent. He was a passenger. This is not right.”