Police body camera and other footage released Wednesday from the Chicago-area officer-involamved shooting involving a woman and her boyfriend, who later died, does not show the actual shooting – only moments after – and leaves questions surrounding the credibility of the officer’s narrative, lawyers for the couple said Wednesday.
Attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, who represent Tafara Williams and the family of her deceased boyfriend, Marcellis Stinnette, said the Waukegan police officer who shot the couple during what the department said started as an Oct. 20 traffic stop did not activate his body-worn camera until after he fired at them.
When the officer did turn it on, someone off-camera is heard yelling: “We didn’t do anything wrong.”
The unidentified officer replied: “I was running behind you and you almost tried to run me over,” which created a “false narrative” surrounding the events, the attorneys said.
“Why did you shoot us?” a female voice is heard saying.
“We don’t have the transparency. We don’t have the truth,” Romanucci told reporters during a press conference outside of an Illinois State Police barracks in Des Plaines. On Wednesday, Romanucci, Crump and the victims’ families viewed what did exist of the body cam video, as well as dashcam footage from the shooting.
But still, Romanucci said, “there is a dead zone there where we don’t see what happened.”
A Waukegan Police Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request seeking comment. The videos were made public Wednesday after the families of victims had a chance to view the footage first.
“What we saw,” Crump said Wednesday, “was bits and pieces.”
Police have only identified the officer who fired his weapon as a Hispanic man who had five years on the job. He was fired on Friday by Waukegan police Chief Wayne Walles, who said he had committed “multiple police and procedure violations.”
Officials previously said Williams, 20, was driving and Stinnette, her 19-year-old boyfriend and the father of their 7-month-old baby, was in the passenger seat when they were shot during a traffic stop, while both were seated inside the vehicle.
Police said the second officer opened fire out of fear for his own safety when the vehicle moved in reverse toward him. No weapon was found in the vehicle.
Dashcam footage from the vehicle of the officer who opened fire shows a car traveling at a high rate of speed before ending up on a sidewalk. As the officer pulls up near the passenger side of the car, the driver of the other vehicle reverses.
The officer shouts and several shots are heard before the vehicle is heard crashing into a building.
On Wednesday, when asked whether the car was seen in any of the footage reversing toward the officer, Crump said that “seems to be a false narrative about him fearing for his life because she was in reverse.
“You look at that video for yourself,” he said. “He is not in imminent danger when he shoots. It’s clear.”
Romanucci said he has reason to believe the police department was basing its belief solely on the narrative of the Hispanic officer, who he said has “zero credibility.”
In this image taken from a video screen, Tafara Williams speaks to reporters from her hospital bed during a Zoom meeting Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020 in Libertyville, Ill. (Zoom via AP Photo)
“Once the shooting police officer turned on his body camera you heard him say, shout across the way to Tafara, ‘You tried to run me over.’ That is the false narrative that we continue to talk about,” Romanucci said. There should be no weight given to his self-serving statement for the use of deadly force against what clear appears to be a stationary car and his feet were stationary at the same time.”
The attorneys also slammed the officer for neglecting to activate the camera when he was supposed to.
“Tafara said that she never tried to run anyone over. Was she trying to get away from him? She was leaving, she was moving away from him, but she wasn’t trying to run anyone over,” Romanucci said. “That’s his narrative, and that’s why this bodycam issue is so important – he failed to turn it on at the appropriate time, which would have resolved these issues one way or the other.”
Williams said Tuesday that after being stopped by one officer while smoking in the car in front of Williams’ home, she and Stinnette raised their hands to show they were unarmed. She said she then drove the car away slowly.
The officer who initiated the traffic stop recognized Stinnette and told him he was under arrest because of an outstanding warrant.
“Show me the hands, pal,” the officer says. “I ain’t playing with you because I know you.”
As he approaches the passenger side of the vehicle, the car pulls off.
“Man they just ran me over,” the officer says.
Willams didn’t think the officer was following her, she said, but shortly thereafter, another officer was “waiting for us.”
Marcellis Stinnette’s grand mother Sherrellis Stinnette speaks during protest rally for Marcellis Stinnette who killed by Waukegan Police Tuesday in Waukegan, Ill., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
She recalled through tears how she lost control of the car and crashed.
“The officer was shooting at us. The car ended up slamming into a building,” she recalled. “I kept screaming, ‘I don’t have a gun.’ But he kept shooting.”
Williams said she and Stinnette had their hands up.
“I kept asking him, why, why he was shooting,” she continued. “Marcellis kept shaking … My blood was gushing out of my body. The officers are yelling. They wouldn’t give an ambulance until we got out the car.”
She said that she could hear Stinnette breathing and begged the police to take him to the hospital first because he had recently had surgery, but her pleas were ignored.
“They laid Marcellis on the ground and covered him with a blanket while he was still breathing,” she said.
Stinnette was taken to an area hospital, but could not be saved.
“I know he was still alive,” she said, “and they took that away from me.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.