An Illinois city is in turmoil after police shot and killed a black teenager who was traveling in a vehicle that turned into an officer. The shooting, which took place Tuesday night, drove the driver of the vehicle to hospital and sparked protests in Wagoner.
The local police department said Thursday that an officer was “investigating the occupied vehicle” as the suspects fled the scene. Then, a second officer found the vehicle and approached, and they started moving upside down towards him. The officer, who feared for his safety, fired his semi-automatic rifle, the department said.
Authorities did not release the name of the officer who carried out the shooting, but he was a Hispanic man who had been with the army for five years. The officer is on administrative leave and is being investigated by the Illinois State Police.
19-year-old Marcelis Stinnett was taken to a nearby hospital where he died of his injuries, police said. An initial autopsy determined that Stinnett had died from gunshot wounds. Police said no weapons were found inside the vehicle.
“We have been in close contact with Mr. Stinnett’s family and express our deepest condolences to them during this difficult time. It is truly a tragedy,” said Dr. Howard Cooper, Crown Prince of Lake County.
The driver, who was only identified as a woman in her 20s, was hospitalized with serious injuries, but she is expected to recover.
He was later identified as Tafara Williams, Stinnett’s girlfriend. Her mother, Cliftina Johnson, told reporters that her daughter was seeking her life during the incident. “When I got there, Johnson said, ‘Mom, they shot us without doing anything.'” My daughter put her hand up, and if she didn’t put her hand up, she said, ‘Mom, I’m going to die.’
Mayor Sam Cunningham admitted that he knew the families of both Stinnett and Williams, and that he was concerned about the impact of the shooting on Wagon, 40 miles north of Chicago. “I was a black man who grew up in the same area, and it could have been me,” Cunningham said Reporters Wednesday.
“I’m nervous because there’s a lot of uncertainty. A lot of rumors are flying. We beg, bring us whatever information you have. Bring it to us no matter what scenes you have,” he added. “We ‘ve seen this drama all over this country, but it’s tearing through communities.”
Demonstrators marched across the city on Thursday to protest the trial. They also demanded that the video be released from the video. Illinois State Police are currently examining dashcam footage and body camera videos from officers.
Teenage grandmother Sherrellis said she would like the officer fired. “They are human beings, they deserve to live,” he said CBS Chicago. “He left a child; he left five sisters, a mother and a father.”