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Waukegan police officer fatally shoots teen after car reverses during traffic stop

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (October 22, 2020) – A Waukegan police officer shot two people Tuesday night — fatally wounding  a 19 year old — after the car they were in allegedly reversed during a traffic stop.

Preliminary autopsy results confirm 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette “died from injuries due to a gunshot” fired by a Waukegan police officer while he was a passenger in a vehicle, the Lake County Coroner announced Thursday morning.

The incident leading up to the fatal shooting began shortly before midnight Tuesday when an officer began to investigate a vehicle near Liberty and Oak streets, police said. The car drove off and moments later, another officer spotted the car near Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and South Avenue. As that officer approached the vehicle on foot, the car reversed and the officer fired his pistol out of “fear for his safety,” police said.

The driver, a Waukegan woman in her 20s, and Stinnette were both hit by gunfire. The woman was hospitalized in serious condition and is expected to recover. Stinnette died at Vista Medical Center East.

Police say no weapon was found in the vehicle. Both officers involved in the incident have five years of experience with the department. The officer who shot Stinnette is a Hispanic male.

The shooting has been turned over to the Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force to investigate and their findings will be given to the Lake County State’s Attorney.

Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim said in a statement release Wednesday that it may be several weeks before Illinois State Police finish their investigation and asked for “continued calm and patience” during the process of the investigation.

“Once I have had the opportunity to review the entire investigation, I will make a determination regarding whether the officers violated any laws. Should it be determined the officers violated a law, they will be criminally charged,” Nerheim said. “If laws were not broken, I will write up a detailed statement that will completely review the facts, show the evidence, explain applicable laws, and give our reasoning for the final decision.”

Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham asked anyone who witnessed the encounter to pass on any videos.

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