Waukegan mayor urges calm from residents after police shooting of young Black couple

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An Illinois mayor pleaded for calm from residents of his town after police opened fire on an unarmed Black couple, according to reports.

Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham spoke out after police shot the couple, who were sitting in a car, killing one and wounding the other, ABC News reported. Protests started on Thursday with only a few dozen people near the site of the incident, but grew over the following day. 

"This is tough on Waukegan. This is tough on this community," Cunningham said at a news conference on Wednesday. "I know these families personally."

"To be able to speak to them about this, yes, it hurts," Cunningham added. "It just doesn't hurt me, the police department — it hurts Waukegan, Illinois."

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Cunningham was elected in 2017, becoming Waukegan’s first Black mayor.

"Yes, I'm nervous. I'm nervous because there's a lot of uncertainty out there, there's a lot of rumors flying around. I'm nervous for Waukegan. We've seen this play out throughout this country. It just rips through communities and it takes years to rebuild."

People march during a protest rally for Marcellis Stinnette who was killed by Waukegan Police last Tuesday in Waukegan, Ill., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Marcelis Stinnete and his girlfriend and mother of his child, Tafara Williams, were shot after Williams’ vehicle started rolling toward a police officer during a traffic stop.

Stinnete was killed, and Williams was injured. Williams was taken to the hospital in serious condition.

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Police have said that the pair were in a vehicle that fled a traffic stop late Tuesday.

The officer who shot the couple is Hispanic and a five-year veteran of the Waukegan Police Department. The officer who conducted the original traffic stop is White, police said.

"That officer exited his vehicle and the vehicle that he was investigating began to reverse toward the officer," Waukegan Police Department Commander Edgar Navarro alleged. "The officer then pulled out his duty weapon and fired into the vehicle that was reversing. Both occupants were struck."

No weapons were found in the car.

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Navarro declined to release the name of the officer involved in the shooting. State police are examining officer body cameras and squad car dash cameras, though it is unclear if any of the footage captured the shooting.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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