WAUKEGAN, Ill. (WLS) — A former Waukegan police officer has been charged in two incidents including murder charges for a fatal shooting while on duty in 2020, Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said Thursday.
Former Officer Dante Salinas has been charged with three counts of second-degree murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter for the Oct. 20, 2020 police shooting that left 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette dead and his girlfriend, 20-year-old Tafarra Williams, injured.
Salinas appeared in court Thursday afternoon where his bond was set at $350,000. He was also ordered not to communicate with the other parties involved.
Salinas posted bond and was released around 7 p.m.
In the 2020 incident, what Waukegan police said started as a traffic stop investigating a suspicious vehicle quickly escalated to a police chase and then a shooting, which was heard on a police dash camera video.
Prosecutors said Salinas fired seven shots, killing Stinnette and injuring Williams.
“Marcellis Stinnette was a passenger in Ms. Williams’ car and committed no crimes, neither Stinnette or Williams had no weapons,” said Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart.
Police claim Williams, who survived, reversed toward the officer involved, but a civil suit filed on behalf of Stinnette’s family contends he was “in no immediate danger.”
Family of Marcellis Stinnette, Tafarra Williams react to charges against officer
The complaint claims Salinas “failed to turn on his body camera before drawing his weapon.”
Video released by the city of Waukegan shows the officer who fired the shots activated his body camera after the shots were fired.
“I am just glad that the police officer has been charged with my grandson’s death, the murder and I’m glad that we are seeking justice and my heart is filled with joy,” Sherrellis Stinnette, grandmother of Marcellis, said.
Williams has been charged with aggravated fleeing and eluding for taking off after being stopped by Salinas.
“Be mindful because at the end of the day, she’s still a human being, the officer is a human being, regardless how we feel about the situation, it took a long time but we forgive him,” said her mother Clifftina Johnson.
Wiliams’ bond was set at $50,000 Thursday.
The families have been publicly pushing for charges against Salinas for two years, but Rinehart said it took time to get it right because the former officer’s bodycam video was turned off during the incident.
Salinas was also charged with aggravated battery for an incident in August of 2019 that left Angel Salgado with a broken eye socket, Rinehart said.
The 2019 incident occurred in Salgado’s neighborhood on South Victory Street in Waukegan.
“Angel was not hurting anyone. He was not breaking the law and Officer Salinas had not received a complaint,” Rinehart said.
Rinehart said Officer Salinas heard Salgado shout, stopped his patrol car and then a verbal argument ensued.
“Officer Salinas pulled his firearm and then his Taser in the middle of the verbal argument,” Rinehart said. “Mr. Salgado turned away from Salinas to enter a fenced in area of his family’s house. Salgado had ended the argument and was walking into a yard. A private yard. Salinas chose to follow him, deploy his Taser, tackle him and punch him in the face.
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