The campaign for justice in the killing of an unarmed Black driver is gathering new momentum after a local mayor finally bowed to pressure to release a video of the incident.
Sam Cunningham, mayor of Waukegan, Illinois, said that officials will soon release police video of last week’s shooting that killed Marcellis Stinnette, 19, and wounded his girlfriend, Tafara Williams, 20. Cunningham said that the public will be able to view the video once relatives of the victims have seen it first.
The concession comes after the fatal confrontation on October 20 and after local police first insisted that the dashcam videos would not be made public until they had concluded their investigation.
Mayor Cunningham, speaking on Sunday at a prayer vigil to celebrate Stinnette’s life also urged the public to let justice take its due course in the case, according to a report from Associated Press.
Cunningham called for the community to “respect the process” in the city about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of Chicago.
Last Friday, the mayor and the Waukegan Police Department announced the firing of the officer who shot the couple.
Cunningham added that he hopes the recordings are disseminated ahead of a Freedom of Information Act request that has a Thursday deadline, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“We want to beat the FOIA request,” Cunningham said following the prayer vigil, which was held where Stinnette and Williams were shot by the unidentified Hispanic officer who had been with the local police department for 5 months.
Waukegan Police Chief Wayne Walles also briefly spoke at Sunday’s vigil, calling the fatal shooting a “terrible incident” while extolling the power of prayer and offering his condolences to the victims’ families.
Williams, who was shot in the abdomen and arm but is expected to recover, spoke to a crowd of about 200 during a rally on Saturday from her hospital bed, saying she’s fighting “to be strong” for the couple’s 7-month-old son.
“Don’t allow them to do this to us,” Williams said as her mother, Clifftina Johnson, held a megaphone to her cellphone. “No justice, no peace. I won’t sleep until Marcellis gets justice. He didn’t deserve it, and they waited for him to die. No justice, no peace. And my son don’t have a father no more, but I’m fighting for him, and I’m in his hospital, and I’m trying to be strong.”
The unidentified officer was approaching the pair’s car when it started moving in reverse, prompting him to open fire while fearing for his safety. No weapon was found inside the vehicle, police have said.
Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim said he did not have an update Sunday on when the probe into the shooting may be finished. He initially said the investigation could take several weeks.