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15-Yr-Old Wrongly Accused of Shooting Says Police Offered Him McDonalds if He Confessed

On Thursday, Waukegan, Ill. Waukegan Interim Police Chief Keith Zupec made a public apology to a 15-year-old who police wrongfully accused of a shooting and charged with attempted murder. 

Martell Williams, a Waukegan High School student, was arrested and spent two nights in a juvenile detention facility after police accused him of shooting a store clerk at a Dollar General store on February 4. 

Williams said police coerced him into saying he was at the scene of the shooting, telling him that multiple people had identified him as the person in a security video who shot the dollar store clerk. According to Williams, investigators offered him McDonald’s in exchange for a confession and told him if he admitted to his involvement they would allow him to go home.  

The teen eventually gave in to police’s coercion and gave a false confession. He was transported to the Robert W. Depke Juvenile Complex Center in Vernon Hills where he spent almost two days in custody. He was released after his family presented proof of his innocence. 

During the time of the shooting, Williams was playing in his high school’s basketball game. His family presented police with a screenshot from Snapchat confirming he was at the game at the time of the February 4 shooting.

“It was just a real bad experience. I was scared, I just wanted to go home,” Williams said Monday at a news conference outside the Waukegan Police Department. “I didn’t know what was going on at the time.”

Williams said police showed up at his school to arrest him and gave him no immediate explanation as to why he was being arrested.

“I was in school in freshman seminar class, and the dean came down and got me and walked me to the office,” he said. “And once I reached the office, there were just two police officers there. As soon as I got in, they didn’t tell me nothing or say anything. They just said I was under arrest.”

The interim Waukegan police chief publicly apologized to Williams and his family, saying his department “must do better.” Zupec released a statement Monday saying the city is reviewing the case, but declined to comment at this time.

“The city has been in contact with the juvenile’s family and their attorney,” the statement said. “The city will continue to communicate with and provide information to the family’s attorney as it gathers the facts and circumstances that led to this situation.”

His family attorney, Kevin O’Connor, said the situation points to needed reforms in the police department. O’Connor said the teen’s arrest was the result of “lazy police work.”

“What’s the saddest part of all this?” O’Connor said. “While he’s being arrested, the person who did (the shooting) is free to go and harm other people, because they didn’t do the basic detective work of figuring out where he was at the time it happened.”

Lake County Black Lives Matter Executive Director Clyde McLemore said Williams’ coerced confession is an example of what he called, “the school-to-prison pipeline.”

Williams, McClemore said, has now been in “the system.”

“We need to get him out of the system,” McLemore said.

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1 comment

Renee March 5, 2022 at 2:54 pm

Sew the school to cause the dean should have contacted his parents.


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