CHICAGO, IL – Chicago police released body camera footage of the fatal shooting of a 13-year-old boy who ran from police armed with a handgun. The video shows an officer making a split-second decision to fire as the boy turned toward him in an alley.
The March 29 footage released through the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability shows the an officer chasing Adam Toledo down an alley after responding to a call for shots fired in the area.
A police incident report identified the officer as 34-year-old Eric Stillman, who has served the Chicago Police Department since August 2015.
Police said officers were dispatched to the Little Village neighborhood in the early morning hours after the city’s ShotSpotter technology detected eight gun shots in the area. When police arrived, Toledo and 21-year-old Ruben Roman fled.
“The seventh grade boy was killed by an officer in the early morning hours of March 29 in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood”https://t.co/kWFwEjFYpJ
— Daniel P. Horan, OFM (@DanHoranOFM) April 16, 2021
Video obtained by police from a surveillance camera in the area captured Roman allegedly firing the shots that were detected by the ShotSpotter system. Roman was arrested by another officer at the scene.
As an officer chased Toledo, the officer can be heard on the video shouting at the boy:
“Stop right f—ing now. Hands — show me your f—ing hands now. Drop it!”
— Atom Radio (@UkAtomRadio) April 16, 2021
The boy stops running and stood with his right hand holding what appeared to be a handgun concealed against a fence as the officer tells Toledo to “drop it.”
The officer repeats the command just as the child begins to turn toward the officer. Toledo puts up both hands just as the officer fired one shot.
In surveillance video from a parking lot also released by police, Toledo appeared to toss something behind the fence immediately before turning to face the officer. Police later recovered a handgun from behind the fence believed to have been tossed by Toledo.
Chicago’s police review board released body camera video on Thursday of a police officer’s fatal shooting of a 13-year-old boy late last month. https://t.co/tDRGh7ZLXs
— NBCWashington (@nbcwashington) April 16, 2021
After firing the shot, Toledo grabbed his chest and fell to the ground. The officer immediately radioed for an ambulance and began giving first aid to the youth.
The officer shouted to other officers while giving aid:
“I need a medical kit…. Hurry up.”
The officer also talked to the boy, who had his eyes open and was bleeding from the mouth. The officer told the boy:
“Stay with me.”
About one minute after shooting, the officer began giving the child CPR.
Officer Stillman has been placed on 30 days administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
“As the officer, identified in police reports as Eric E. Stillman, 34, fires the single shot, Adam is raising his arms and appears to be empty-handed.” #BlackLivesMatter #StopKillingBlackPeople https://t.co/GTZYdQ8Hs8
— Cassandra Rae 🇺🇸🇪🇺🇬🇧 (@_badasscass_) April 15, 2021
Roman was held on $150,000 bond and faces felony charges of unlawful use of reckless discharge of a firearm. He was also charged with child endangerment and violating his probation.
Police released an uncommonly abundant amount of video of the incident including 17 bodycam videos, four third-party videos, a transmission from the Office of Emergency Management and Communications, two audio recordings of 911 calls, six ShotSpotter recordings, as well as response and arrest reports.
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Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) and other officials have given numerous different accounts as to whether Toledo was holding a gun when he was shot, showing the difficulty of making the determination even when watching the video.
— LockharTVMedia (@LockharTVMedia) April 15, 2021
The Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy initially claimed in court that Toledo had a gun in his hand when he was shot, but Cook County State’s Attorney spokesperson Sarah Sinovic later said:
“An attorney who works in this office failed to fully inform himself before speaking in court. Errors like that cannot happen and this has been addressed with the individual involved. The video speaks for itself.”
Mayor Lightfoot called for calm upon release of the video:
“We acknowledge that the release of this video is the first step in the process toward the healing of the family, the community and our city. We understand that the release of this video will be incredibly painful and elicit an emotional response to all who view it, and we ask that people express themselves peacefully.”
The prosecutor did not “make an error.” He lied.
He lied about the police killing a child.
Ending this isn’t just about consequences for who pulls the trigger. It’s about admitting to and confronting an entire system that exists to protect, defend, and cover up state violence. https://t.co/pKkb8PMchR
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 16, 2021
Despite calls for calm by the Mayor and the family of Toledo while the investigation continued into the shooting, Radical left-wing Progressive Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez (D-NY) latched onto the initial misstatement by Attorney Murphy as evidence of an attempt to cover up the shooting:
“The prosecutor did not ‘make an error.’ He lied. He lied about the police killing a child.
“An entire system … exists to protect, defend, and cover-up state violence.”
You must have your gun in your hand to be shot? You must be struck with the Dumb A doule S.
Video of fatal Chicago police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo is released to the public; AOC, Pressley quick to condemn https://t.co/hCLzPDykf2
— Sonny (@GeorgeIvey10) April 16, 2021
The Chicago Police Union is standing by the officer, calling the shooting “justified.” FOP President John Catanzara said the officer was “100 percent right” to shoot the suspect:
“There’s no way the officer could see where his arm went when it went behind that fence panel that was totally blocked by the fence itself.
“We do not have to wait to be shot to respond. The officer had every reason to believe that that offender was turning and pointing the gun at him. … You can Monday morning quarterback and all you want, but according to Illinois statute, you only need to have a reasonable belief in order to take deadly action.”
Adam Toledo shooting – latest: Eric Stillman named as officer as AOC blasts lies over 13-year-old’s killing https://t.co/dqYs0k0O10 AOC not as blase as when Israelis gun down Palestinians, it seems. @lilith2u @mariecountryman @redsarah99 @fcnl @demsocialists
— Bunkunin (@bunkybun) April 16, 2021
Catanzara said that any reasonable person in a similar situation with the same responsibilities as the officer would have done the same:
“No person in the right mind would not say that they would have been in fear of their life in that same situation, and less than one second to react on whether that gun was still there or not.
“The offender still turned with a gun in his hand. This occurred in eight-tenths of a second. Time-lapse video shows that that officer had eight-tenths of a second to determine if that weapon was still in his hand or not. Period.
“There’s no way a rational person can say they can process that and their muscle reaction would be less than one second. The officer does not have to wait to be shot at or shot in order to respond and defend himself. There is no obligation whatsoever.”
He had a gun in his hand 800ms before he was shot, and the officer couldn’t see that the gun was being tossed. Here at 1:40https://t.co/0MnKGnqhm4
— Eric Johnson (@eric__johnson) April 16, 2021
Speaking to CNN host Chris Cuomo, Catanzara said:
“In reality, an average human being could not block someone from slapping him in the face in less time than that … It’s a good reason why the officer only shot one. He would have been justified to shoot multiple times.
“We’re (trained) to basically shoot (twice) and reassess. That didn’t even happen because by the time he had shot the first time in justification, he realized the gun was out of his hand, he didn’t shoot a second time.”
You can see him tossing it here at 1:40https://t.co/0MnKGnqhm4
— Eric Johnson (@eric__johnson) April 16, 2021
Tim Grace, an attorney representing the officer, said that his client should not be charged with any crime in this shooting, and he does not expect any charges to be filed:
“I don’t know how you can charge a cop who was put in his situation. (Adam Toledo) had a gun and was turning with the gun. The officer had no backup and he did what he needed to do when fearing for his life. He is justified in his actions.”
He was shot because he turned towards the cop while the cop still assumed he had a gun.
Toledo’s body and the fence next to him made it impossible to see the gun being thrown, and he threw it and turned around in the same motion (only 0.8s before shot) https://t.co/0MnKGnqhm4
— Eric Johnson (@eric__johnson) April 16, 2021
The attorney for Adam Toledo’s family disagreed. Attorney Adeena Weiss Ortiz said:
“If you’re shooting an unarmed child with his arms in the air, it’s an assassination.”
When asked about the fact that Toledo was holding a gun just prior to the shot being fired, the attorney said:
“It’s not relevant because he tossed the gun. If he had a gun, he tossed it.”
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Author: Scott A. Davis
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