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Former Illinois police officer charged with shooting death of black man in 2020

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WAUKEGAN, Ill. — A former suburban Chicago police officer who was fired after shooting up a car two years ago, killing a black man and seriously wounding the man’s girlfriend, has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter, the police announced. authorities on Thursday.

In a press release, the Lake County State’s Attorney’s office said it had unsealed grand jury indictments against former Waukegan police officer Dante Salinas on Oct. 1. The Jan. 20, 2020 shooting killed a 19-year-old local man, Marcellis Stinnette, and injured his girlfriend, Tafara Williams, according to the Lake County State’s Attorney’s office. Salinas was also charged with felony counts of aggravated assault causing great bodily harm and official misconduct.

The night of the shooting, another Waukegan officer stopped the couple’s car and was questioning them when Williams suddenly drove away, according to investigators. The officer gave chase and Salinas responded to his call for help and joined the pursuit.

Williams skidded off a highway and crashed, then put her car in reverse in an attempt to leave the area, the Lake County State’s Attorney’s office said in a news release Thursday.

Salinas had gotten out of his squad car and was not in the path of Williams’ car, but “fired multiple shots into the driver’s side of the vehicle as he continued to back up,” according to the news release.

Williams was injured and Stinnette, who said prosecutors had committed no crime, was killed.

An expert who analyzed the trajectory of the bullets was able to determine Salinas’s location and the trajectory of his bullets, Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said in the statement.

Salinas turned himself in to authorities Thursday and a judge ordered him held on $350,000 bond, prosecutors said. Second-degree murder carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and involuntary manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of five years. If Salinas is convicted of both charges, the sentences would run simultaneously.

Douglas Zeit, an attorney who represented Salinas in court Thursday, declined to comment when reached by phone.

Williams has been charged with aggravated flight. She also turned herself in to authorities and a judge ordered her released on a $50,000 recognizance bond.

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