WAUKEGAN, Ill. – A former suburban Chicago police officer who was fired after he shot into a car two years ago, killing a man and seriously wounding his girlfriend, has been charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.
A grand jury returned indictments on Wednesday against former Waukegan police Officer Dante Salinas in the Oct. 20, 2020, shooting that killed a 19-year-old man, Marcellis Stinnette, and wounded his girlfriend, Tafara Williams, the Lake County News-Sun reported. Salinas also was indicted on charges of aggravated battery and official misconduct stemming from a separate incident in 2019, the newspaper reported.
“It’s not gonna bring my brother back, but it’s a step forward in the right direction,” Zhanellis Banks, Stinnette’s sister, told News4JAX. “So I feel like it’s a movement of progression. I feel like this is something that was needed.”
On the night of the shooting, another Waukegan officer stopped the couple’s car and was questioning them when Williams suddenly drove off, according to investigators. The officer pursued them and Salinas responded to his call for help and joined the chase. Williams ran off the road and then put her car in reverse, leading Salinas, who had gotten out of his car, to fire several shots, striking Williams and Stinnette.
Salinas, who was in pursuit, is accused of firing seven shots before turning on his body camera.
The investigation took nearly two years — to the frustration of Stinette’s mother, Zharvellis Holmes.
“I’ve been waiting on this a long time,” Holmes said.
She remembers her son as a good-hearted, helpful person and an enthusiastic musician.
“Marcellis liked the sing. He liked to rap. He liked to dance,” Holmes said. “He was very playful. He loved his family.”
“He was a great person,” said his sister, Tanellis. “He loved kids. He loved everybody. Like, he had a big heart, you know? That’s just my brother.”
Salinas appeared in court Thursday afternoon and his bond was set at $350,000.
The shooting came just weeks after an officer in nearby Kenosha, Wisconsin, shot and wounded Jacob Blake, which led to several nights of protests that were sometimes violent. The Waukegan shooting also sparked protests and led the police department to quickly fire Salinas for what it described at the time as “multiple policy and procedure violations.”
Williams, who according to court records has been charged with aggravated fleeing, sued Salinas and the officer who stopped her and Stinnette earlier that night.