A former suburban Chicago police officer who was fired after he shot into a car two years ago, killing a Black man and seriously wounding the man's girlfriend, has been charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, authorities announced on Thursday.
In a news release, the Lake County State's Attorney's office said it had unsealed grand jury indictments against former Waukegan police Officer Dante Salinas in the Oct. 20, 2020, shooting that killed a 19-year-old local man, Marcellis Stinnette, and wounded his girlfriend, Tafara Williams, according to the Lake County State's Attorney's office. Salinas also was indicted on felony counts of aggravated battery causing great bodily harm and official misconduct.
Stinette's grandmother, Sherrellis Stinnette, praised the announcement of the charges,.
"My grandson's blood is crying out from the grave, 'Grandma, we need justice!', and we're finally getting justice," she said.
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 drove off a roadway and crashed, then put her car in reverse in an attempt to leave the area, the Lake County State's Attorney's office said in a news release Thursday.
Salinas had climbed out of his squad car and was not in the path of Williams' car but he "fired several shots into the driver's side of the vehicle as it continued to reverse past him," according to the news release.
Williams was wounded and Stinnette, who prosecutors said had committed no crime, was killed.
An expert analyzing the trajectory of the bullets was able to determine the location of Salinas and the trajectory of his bullets, Lake County State's Attorney Eric Rinehart said in the statement.
did not show the actual shooting, because Salinas did not activate his body camera until after shooting Stinnette and Williams – , CBS Chicago reported. The footage did document Salinas explaining why he fired into the car, as he is interviewed by another officer.
"It backed up right at me; it was in between my squad car…. I fired my weapon because I thought I was the next one run over," Salinas says.
Salinas surrendered to authorities on Thursday and a judge ordered that he be held on $350,000 bond, prosecutors said. Second-degree murder carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and manslaughter carries a maximum term of five years. If Salinas is convicted of both charges, the sentences would run concurrently.
Douglas Zeit, an attorney who represented Salinas in court on Thursday, declined to comment when reached by phone.
Williams has been charged with aggravated fleeing. She turned herself in to authorities as well and a judge ordered that she be released on a $50,000 recognizance bond.
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