Monday, September 26, 2022

Former Waukegan police officer Dante Salinas charged with second-degree murder in 2020 shooting of Marcellis Stinnette


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CHICAGO (CBS) — The former Waukegan police officer who shot and killed 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette and wounded Stinnette’s girlfriend during a chase in 2020 is now facing murder and manslaughter charges.

Dante Salinas has been charged with three counts of second-degree murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter in Stinnette’s death, according to Lake County court records.

Former Waukegan police officer Dante Salinas

Lake County Sheriff

Salinas shot and killed Stinnette and wounded his girlfriend, Tafara Williams, on Oct. 20, 2020, during a chase after they’d fled an earlier stop in Waukegan. Williams was seriously injured, but survived.

Before the shooting, Williams and Stinnette had fled a suspicious vehicle stop. Officer James Keating had pulled them over, telling them he was arresting Stinnette on an outstanding warrant, but they took off.

Salinas later located them and pulled them over. Salinas fired the shots just 12 seconds after walking up to the vehicle in which Stinnette was a passenger and Williams was behind the wheel.

Marcellis Stinnette (Credit: Legal Help Firm)

A search warrant from the night of the shooting claims Stinnette had an outstanding warrant out of Florida for a probation violation. But it was non-extraditable, meaning Stinnette wouldn’t be sent back for it.

Video released by the city of Waukegan within days of the shooting did not show the actual shooting, because Salinas did not activate his body camera until after shooting Stinnette and Williams – a decision that got him fired from the department.

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.

Dashboard camera from Salinas’ vehicle does show him following the couple’s car before the shooting, as Williams’ car slides off the road at Martin Luther King Jr. and South avenues. As Salinas gets out of his squad car, the couples’ car begins backing up, but Salinas isn’t visible in that footage, so it’s unclear from the video if he was in the car’s path before firing.

“I was right behind you and you almost tried to run me over!” the officer is heard yelling.

From another angle, the reversing car ends up slamming into a brick wall. By that point, Stinnette and Williams had been shot.

The shooting was not the only time Salinas has been in trouble. He has a history of lawsuits against him, claiming behavior that goes way over the line.

He was sued in 2019, after a Waukegan man, Angel Salgado, was arrested while attending a family baptism – even though Salgado says he was “behaving lawfully.”

Police reports state Salgado had flagged Salinas down – and then Salgado “kept yelling and advancing in a menacing manner.”

Salinas deployed his Taser and eventually tackled Salgado to the ground, striking him in the face with the butt of his gun.

Police records show that several internal reviews of the body cam determined that the actual use of force was “within department policy.”

But Salgado’s attorneys have said Salinas overreacted and escalated the situation, saying that the audio in body camera footage of the incident doesn’t come on for 30 seconds.

“During that 30 seconds, my client described that [Salinas] was screaming out the window at him, yelling – very rude, very disrespectful,” attorney Kevin O’Connor said in 2020.

Salinas was not disciplined in that case, although in a final memo on the incident, Salinas’ commander said Salinas should review the tape, saying, “This would give Officer Salinas some of tools he could use if faced with a similar situation in the future.”

Williams also has filed a lawsuit against Salinas, accusing him of using “an unreasonable amount of force in relationship to the threat or force posed by the Plaintiff, who was not resisting any lawful arrest or threatening the life or safety of any police officers.”

Attorneys said Salinas and Keating had personal animosity toward Williams and Stinnette, and said the City of Waukegan was “encouraging, accommodating, or facilitating a ‘blue code of silence'” in its police department.

Williams’ lawsuit also blames the city of Waukegan for improper training, as did Salgado’s lawsuit.

In video from the night of the shooting, it was clear Keating immediately recognized Stinnette in the passenger seat after first pulling over the couple’s vehicle at Liberty and Oak streets.

“What’s your first name? You’re Marcellis, right?” Keating said.

He then said, “You’re under arrest, man.” When Williams asks why Stinnette is under arrest, the officer replies, “because I said.”

“Hey, come on, show me the hands, pal. I ain’t playing with you because I know you. Marcellis, you’re under arrest,” Keating said.

“He’s under arrest for what though?” Williams said.

“Because he got a warrant,” the officer said.

The officer and Williams continued talking back and forth until Williams drove off.

“They just ran me over,” Keating said.

That’s when Salinas picked up the chase that ended with him shooting Williams and Stinnette.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)


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