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Black US woman shot by police to file complaint

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Oct 28, 2020 - 06:42 AM

WASHINGTON — An African American woman injured as police shot dead her boyfriend last week announced from her hospital bed Tuesday that she will file a complaint, as she challenged the official version of the shooting.

“I lost the love of my life and the father of my seven-month-old child” when an officer opened fire “while we had our hands raised in the air,” said Tafara Williams, 20, during a virtual press conference organized by her lawyer Ben Crump.

America has in recent months undergone a historic reckoning with racism and police brutality, since the killing of African American George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolise in May galvanised the largest national protest movement in decades.

Since then, new shootings and incidents of police brutality disproportionately targeting Black people in the US have repeatedly ignited fresh protests.

The shooting of Williams and her boyfriend, 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette, took place on October 20 in Waukegan, a suburb north of Chicago.

An officer opened fire on the car Williams was driving, injuring her and killing Stinnette, who was in the passenger seat. The officer, who is Hispanic and who has not been named, has since been fired.

Police have said that another officer first tried to investigate what appeared to be a suspicious car, but the couple fled.

The second officer then intervened, but the vehicle allegedly backed towards him and he opened fire.

Williams has said that she was smoking a cigarette in the car, which was parked in front of her home, with Stinette when the first officer approached.

After their conversation she said she left quietly. “I drove off very slowly… The officer was not following me,” she said.

But when she turned a corner the second officer appeared to be waiting.

Through tears, she said there was “a crash.”

“I lost control, the officer was shooting at us… I kept shouting, I don’t have a gun,” she said.

Her hands were up, she said, but she could not move due to her injuries.

“I kept asking why, why he was shooting.”

The city mayor has promised to make video of the shooting public this week, and the families have called for calm.

Crump, who is representing Williams and her family, praised the initial steps taken by police but said he will file a civil suit for compensation and police reform.

“When you’re dealing with African Americans, it’s almost as if you shoot first ask questions later,” he said.

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