Lake County state's attorney 'very concerned' about teen's wrongful arrest

  • Family attorney Kevin O'Connor, left, wants authorities to apologize for the wrongful arrest of Waukegan teen Martell Williams.

    Family attorney Kevin O'Connor, left, wants authorities to apologize for the wrongful arrest of Waukegan teen Martell Williams. ABC 7 Chicago

 
By Michelle Gallardo
ABC 7 Chicago
Updated 2/22/2022 5:40 PM

Wrongly labeled a would-be murderer, 15-year-old Martell Williams spent two nights last week in the lockup at the Waukegan Police Department.

He was wrongly accused of shooting a local Dollar Store employee in the face on Feb. 4. Surveillance photos of the suspect were released by the police department in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

 

Martell. a freshman who is also on the Waukegan High School basketball team, was confirmed to be at a game in Lincolnshire at the time of the shooting. A time-stamped photograph provided by the family helped to clear him.

But the damage had already been done. Martell was pulled out of class in front of all his classmates.

"The dean came down and got me and walked me to her office. And once I reached her office, there were two police officers," Martell said. "As soon as I got in, they didn't tell me nothing, say nothing to me. They just said, 'You're under arrest.'"

Flanked by his mother and his attorney at a news conference Monday, Martell said officers offered him McDonald's in exchange for a confession. He didn't know what he was being accused of.

"They didn't even tell him a shooting was involved," said Kevin O'Connor, the Williams family's attorney. "They just said, 'Hey, it wasn't your fault. Just tell us you were defending yourself. Just go ahead and tell us you were there, and we will let you go home.'"

On Tuesday, Lake County State's Attorney Eric Rinehart said he was "very concerned about the arrest of Martell Williams." "Our office dropped the charges as soon as the new information was presented to us by the Waukegan Police Department," Rinehart said in a news release. "We will continue to support Waukegan's renewed investigation into this matter to find the real perpetrator.

The city of Waukegan released a statement Monday saying the city was reviewing the case and had been in contact with Martell's family and his lawyer.

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