JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A devastated Jacksonville family is demanding answers after a 19-year-old was shot and killed by police during a traffic stop outside of Chicago.
“This is just something that I see on the news or on TV and think it’ll never happen to me. Now I’m a victim of the same thing. My mother has lost her son. Another African-American family is broken,” Marcellis Stinnette’s sister, Zhanellis Banks said.
Stinnette attended Terry Parker High School in Jacksonville and had moved to Chicago recently, his family said. He leaves behind his parents and five sisters.
Waukegan Police said the incident that led to Stinnette’s death began shortly before midnight Tuesday when an officer began to investigate a report of a suspicious vehicle, but the car drove off.
Sometime later, another officer spotted the car. According to police, as the officer approached on foot, the car reversed and the officer fired his pistol, he said, out of fear for his safety.
Stinnette, a 19-year-old passenger in the vehicle, died at the scene. His girlfriend, Tafara Williams, who was driving the car, is now in the hospital with serious injuries.
“He didn’t deserve to go out like this. He didn’t deserve that at all," Stinnette’s sister Tanellis Holmes said.
Stinnette’s family said they have since heard conflicting stories, including one from a possible witness. The family said they’re bringing Stinnette’s body back to Jacksonville for burial.
“At this point, I’ve cried all my tears. We’re ready for justice. we’re ready for reform. This can’t happen to another family,” Banks said.
Body camera and squad car video were turned over to the Illinois State Police.
Police confirmed no weapons were found in the vehicle.
“I want answers," Banks said. "Why is it that people who are supposed to protect us took my brother’s life away? He had no weapons. He had no weapon.”
Adding to their heartache, Stinnette’s family members said he was still recovering after being severely injured in an August crash.
“He was already hurting. He was already recovering from something," Banks said. "Knowing he was in the passenger seat. The girl said he pleaded for his life. He begged them, ‘Please don’t take my life.’”
Stinnette’s family remembers him as goofy, talented and easy to get along with. His mother received a message from him the night he died -- a rap song he was working on.
Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim released a statement about the police shooting, saying, in part:
It is important for residents and media members alike to understand the process that takes place in these types of cases. .... Once the Illinois State Police completes their investigation, the entire investigation will be turned over to my office for a thorough review. I do not receive any information until the entire investigation is complete, which can take several weeks to finish.
To read his full statement, click here.