USA

Lawyers: Cop video of shooting of 2 Black people suggests coverup

DES PLAINES, Ill. (AP) — A body camera worn by a suburban Chicago police officer who shot a Black couple in their car was only turned on moments after the shooting — a fact that the lawyers representing the woman strongly suggests an attempt to cover up what had happened even before he opened fire.

“It's like he was trying to cover up a narrative to justify this use of excessive force,” attorney Ben Crump told reporters on Tuesday shortly before the city of Waukegan released six short videos of the events of Oct. 20 to the public.

Waukegan Police have said that the officer, who has not been publicly identified, fatally shot 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette and seriously injured 20-year-old Tafara Willliams because he feared for his life when the vehicle Williams was driving rolled toward him after a traffic stop.

In one of the videos a woman, presumably Williams, can be heard, asking, “Why'd you shoot us?” and later the officer can be heard telling her that she’d tried to run him over. Later, the officer can be heard telling others who arrived at the scene, presumably fellow officers, that, “They almost ran me over.

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Upset and anger over cop killing of Marcellis Stinnette

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Marcellis Stinnette's mother Zharvellis Holmes cries after a press conference, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, in Des Plaines, Ill., after viewing the videos of the Oct. 20, 2020 police involved shooting in Waukegan that killed 19-year-old Marcellis and seriously wounded Tafara Williams. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Attorney Antonio Romanucci, right, speaks as attorney Ben Crump listens during a press conference , Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, in Des Plaines, Ill., after viewing the videos of the Oct. 20, 2020 police involved shooting in Waukegan that killed 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette and seriously wounded Tafara Williams. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Marcellis Stinnette's grandmother Sherrellis Stinnette cries during a press conference, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, in Des Plaines, Ill., after viewing the videos of the Oct. 20, 2020 police involved shooting in Waukegan that killed 19-year-old Marcellis and seriously wounded Tafara Williams. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Marcellis Stinnette's mother Zharvellis Holmes, left, her daughter Zhanellis Banks, center, and Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., walk to press conference, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, in Des Plaines, Ill., after viewing the videos of the Oct. 20, 2020 police involved shooting in Waukegan that killed 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette and seriously wounded Tafara Williams. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Marcellis Stinnette's mother Zharvellis Holmes, right, and attorney Kevin O'Connor react as they leave a press conference, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, in Des Plaines, Ill., after viewing the videos of the Oct. 20, 2020 police involved shooting in Waukegan that killed 19-year-old Marcellis and seriously wounded Tafara Williams. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Marcellis Stinnette's mother Zharvellis Holmes, fourth from left, and Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., sixth from left, walk to a press conference, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, in Des Plaines, Ill., after viewing the videos of the Oct. 20, 2020 police involved shooting in Waukegan that killed 19-year-old Marcellis and seriously wounded Tafara Williams. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Marcellis Stinnette's grandmother Sherrellis Stinnette cries as she hugs Marcellis Stinnette's mother Zharvellis Holmes during a press conference Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, in Des Plaines, Ill., after viewing the videos of the Oct. 20, 2020 police involved shooting in Waukegan that killed 19-year-old Marcellis and seriously wounded Tafara Williams. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Marcellis Stinnette's mother Zharvellis Holmes, left, and Marcellis's grandmother Sherrellis Stinnette attend a press conference, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, in Des Plaines, Ill., after viewing the videos of the Oct. 20, 2020 police involved shooting in Waukegan that killed 19-year-old Marcellis and seriously wounded Tafara Williams. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Marcellis Stinnette's grandmother Sherrellis Stinnette cries during a press conference, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, in Des Plaines, Ill., after viewing the videos of the Oct. 20, 2020 police involved shooting in Waukegan that killed 19-year-old Marcellis and seriously wounded Tafara Williams. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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. Williams who was injured in a police shooting in suburban Chicago says she begged officers to help her boyfriend, who was also shot and eventually died. Williams and Marcellis Stinnette, a Black man, were shot last week while in a car in Waukegan, north of Chicago. (Zoom via AP Photo)

Kay'lyn Bates, 7, a second-grader from Waukegan, works to get her candle illuminated during a prayer vigil on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020 in Waukegan, Ill. Police video of a suburban Chicago police officer's fatal shooting of a Black man and the wounding of a Black woman as the couple were inside a vehicle is expected to be released once relatives view that video, the mayor of the city where the shooting occurred said. Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham said during the vigil for Marcellis Stinnette, 19, who died in last Tuesday's shooting, that the city intends to publicly release the bodycam and dashcam video recordings, but only after Stinnette's family views them first. (Karie Angell Luc/Daily Herald via AP)

Marcellis Stinnette's grandmother Sherrellis Stinnette cries as she speaks during a protest rally for Marcellis Stinnette who was killed by Waukegan Police Tuesday in Waukegan, Ill., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. Stinnette, 19, was killed and his girlfriend and mother of his child, Tafara Williams, was wounded when a police officer in Waukegan opened fire Tuesday night after police said Williams' vehicle started rolling toward the officer following a traffic stop. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Sherrellis Sheria Stinnette, abuela de Marcellis Stinnette, de 19 años, habla con los medios durante una protesta por el asesinato de Marcellis Stinnette a manos de la policía, en Waukegan, Illinois, el 22 de octubre de 2020. (Brian Hill/Daily Herald vía AP)

Justin Blake, the uncle of Jacob Blake, the man injured in Kenosha, Wis, speaks during a prayer vigil on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020 in Waukegan, Ill. Police video of a suburban Chicago police officer's fatal shooting of a Black man and the wounding of a Black woman as the couple were inside a vehicle is expected to be released once relatives view that video, the mayor of the city where the shooting occurred said. Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham said during the vigil for Marcellis Stinnette, 19, who died in last Tuesday's shooting, that the city intends to publicly release the bodycam and dashcam video recordings, but only after Stinnette's family views them first. (Karie Angell Luc/Daily Herald via AP)

Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham speaks during a prayer vigil on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020 in Waukegan, Ill. Cunningham announced a police video of a suburban Chicago police officer's fatal shooting of a Black man and the wounding of a Black woman as the couple were inside a vehicle is expected to be released once relatives view the video. Marcellis Stinnette, 19, died in last Tuesday's shooting. (Karie Angell Luc/Daily Herald via AP)

People march during a protest rally for Marcellis Stinnette who was killed by Waukegan Police last Tuesday in Waukegan, Ill., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. Stinnette was killed and his girlfriend and mother of his child, Tafara Williams, was wounded when a police officer in Waukegan opened fire Tuesday night after police said Williams' vehicle started rolling toward the officer following a traffic stop. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

People march during a protest rally for Marcellis Stinnette who was killed by Waukegan Police last Tuesday in Waukegan, Ill., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. Stinnette was killed and his girlfriend and mother of his child, Tafara Williams, was wounded when a police officer in Waukegan opened fire Tuesday night after police said Williams' vehicle started rolling toward the officer following a traffic stop. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

A woman takes photos during a protest rally for Marcellis Stinnette who was killed by Waukegan Police last Tuesday in Waukegan, Ill., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. Stinnette was killed and his girlfriend and mother of his child, Tafara Williams, was wounded when a police officer in Waukegan opened fire Tuesday night after police said Williams' vehicle started rolling toward the officer following a traffic stop. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Rayon Edwards speaks on a megaphone as he marches with protesters during a protest rally for Marcellis Stinnette who was killed by Waukegan Police Tuesday in Waukegan, Ill., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. Stinnette, 19, was killed and his girlfriend the mother of his child, Tafara Williams, was wounded when a police officer in Waukegan opened fire Tuesday night after police said Williams' vehicle started rolling toward the officer following a traffic stop. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

People march during a protest rally for Marcellis Stinnette who was killed by Waukegan Police last Tuesday in Waukegan, Ill., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. Stinnette was killed and his girlfriend and mother of his child, Tafara Williams, was wounded when a police officer in Waukegan opened fire Tuesday night after police said Williams' vehicle started rolling toward the officer following a traffic stop. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Lake County Black Lives Matter founder Clyde McLemore of Zion leads a protest rally for Marcellis Stinnette who was killed by Waukegan Police last Tuesday in Waukegan, Ill., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. Stinnette was killed and his girlfriend and mother of his child, Tafara Williams, was wounded when a police officer in Waukegan opened fire Tuesday night after police said Williams' vehicle started rolling toward the officer following a traffic stop. (Brian Hill/Daily Herald via AP)

Rayon Edwards, of Waukegan, Ill. speaks to the crowd during a protest rally for Marcellis Stinnette who was killed by Waukegan Police last Tuesday in Waukegan, Ill., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. Stinnette was killed and his girlfriend and mother of his child, Tafara Williams, was wounded when a police officer in Waukegan opened fire Tuesday night after police said Williams' vehicle started rolling toward the officer following a traffic stop. (Brian Hill/Daily Herald via AP)

People march during a protest rally for Marcellis Stinnette who was killed by Waukegan Police last Tuesday in Waukegan, Ill., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. Stinnette was killed and his girlfriend and mother of his child, Tafara Williams, was wounded when a police officer in Waukegan opened fire Tuesday night after police said Williams' vehicle started rolling toward the officer following a traffic stop. (Brian Hill/Daily Herald via AP)

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SHOW CAPTION

On Wednesday, a day after expressing optimism that investigators would get to the bottom of what happened, attorneys were having none of the officer's account of what had happened.

“That is the false narrative that we continue to talk about. This police officer has zero — absolute zero — credibility,” Antonio Romanucci said. “There should be no weight given to his self-serving statement for the use of deadly force against what clearly appears to be a stationary car, and his feet were stationary at the same time.”

And Crump said there were only two possible explanations for the officer's failure to turn on his body camera until after the shooting.

“It’s regrettable when you have officers who either were not trained properly or who intentionally and consciously made an effort not to turn on their bodycam video so we would see what they did to cause the death of Marcellis Stinnette and horrific injuries to Tafara Williams,” he said. “What we saw was just bits and pieces. ... There was no need to use this excessive deadly force. There was no need. It was a traffic stop.”

Authorities have not discussed the attorneys' contention, but within just a few days of the shooting, the city did fire the officer in part for not turning on the body camera sooner, a clear “breach” of department policies, according to a statement issued Wednesday by Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham.

'They allowed him to die'

On Tuesday, Williams told reporters during a video call from her hospital bed that she and Stinnette didn’t do anything to provoke the shooting. She said after the shooting, Stinnette was badly wounded yet still breathing but the only help officers gave him was a blanket.

“They allowed him to die,” she said. “They wanted us to bleed out on the ground.”

Among the six videos the city released were two that were taken from the officer’s squad car dashcam and his bodycam. As the lawyers said, there is no footage of the actual shooting because although the shots can be heard in the dashcam video, the squad car wasn’t facing the right direction. As for the bodycam footage, the officer didn’t turn on his bodycam until seconds after the shooting.

The officer, who is Hispanic, could face charges once the state police finish their investigation. The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the FBI are also investigating.

Cunningham addressed the shortcomings of the videos, but he said in a statement that he felt it was necessary to release what he could.

“Again, we are all hurting as a result of this incident and while I intend to allow justice to run its course and not compromise the integrity of the process, I must balance that with my commitment to the families and the community to always maintain transparency,” the mayor said. “I thank you for your trust, patience, and prayers.

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