U.S. News

FBI to assist probe into police shooting of Black couple in Illinois

(Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Justice has agreed to assist an Illinois state investigation into a police shooting that killed an unarmed Black man and wounded his girlfriend and triggered protests in the city of Waukegan, an official said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: A view outside the Lake County Courthouse is seen following the Kenosha, Wisconsin shooting of protesters, in Waukegan, Illinois, U.S. August 26, 2020. REUTERS/Stephen Maturen

Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim said he asked the Department of Justice for help reviewing the Oct. 20 shooting, which left 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette dead and has been under investigation by state police.

“I have been advised that they have agreed to do so,” Nerheim said of the Justice Department, which oversees the FBI. “I am confident in the work being done by the Illinois State Police and welcome the assistance of the FBI.”

More than a hundred people marched in Waukegan on Thursday and some 200 to 300 were expected for a second demonstration on Saturday, according to Clyde McLemore, a local organizer. Waukegan is about an hour’s drive north of Chicago.

That will be followed with a prayer vigil on Sunday near where Stinnette and his girlfriend, Tafarra Williams, were shot during a traffic stop late on Tuesday, McLemore said.

McLemore, founder of the Lake County chapter of Black Lives Matter, said he had been calling for the DOJ to take over the probe to make it more objective. He said he had spoken with Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham about that demand.

The Waukegan Police Department has said a Hispanic male officer shot into the couple’s car because it went into reverse when he approached it and he feared for his safety. No firearm was found in the vehicle, the police said.

Satrese Stallworth, a relative of Stinnette and a spokesperson for the family, said Williams was driving and suffered gunshot wounds to the abdomen and wrist.

Stallworth said Stinnette had been in a bad car accident in August in which he broke his leg and wrist, requiring him to use a walker which he had with him in the vehicle.

“He was an unarmed passenger in the car,” Stallworth said. “He posed no threat. So why is he no longer with us?”

Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; Editing by Daniel Wallis