WAUKEGAN, Ill. - “If I don’t forgive that officer, God’s not gonna forgive me.”
Words of grace from the grandmother of a 19-year-old Waukegan man who was shot and killed by police Tuesday night.
More than 100 protesters marched on the Waukegan police station Thursday, demanding answers in the young man’s death. The teenager’s girlfriend, who was also shot, is fighting to stay alive.
The protesters gathered at the corner where 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette was killed. Waukegan Police say Stinnette and his girlfriend, Tafara Williams, were sitting in a car when they were approached by an officer. They say the car suddenly went into reverse and the officer fired “in fear for his safety.”
But an eyewitness disputes that account.
“When he hollered 'stop,' he just started shooting immediately. Immediately,” said Darrell Mosier.
Protesters later marched to the Waukegan Police Department.
“Just be here to do what we can to make sure voices are heard,” said Raoul Ochoa.
While Stinnette’s family says they appreciate the support, they are also calling for calm.
“We just pray that the people keep the peace. There’s no sense in acting a fool,” said the victim’s great aunt, Francellis Stinnette.
“And the police officer, he’s forgiven. I have to forgive him. That’s what God wants me to do. He’s forgiven! He’s forgiven!” added the victim’s grandmother, Sherrellis Sheria Stinnette.
Illinois State Police are investigating whether the use of deadly force was justified, but some family members are asking for Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul to intervene.
The family of Tafara Williams, the woman who was shot, says she underwent another surgery Wednesday and is expected to survive. They say she can’t wait to tell her side of the story.