On Thursday, April 15, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability released videos of the Chicago police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo. Police said officers were dispatched to the Little Village neighborhood about 2:30 a.m. March 29 after the department’s ShotSpotter technology detected the sound of eight gunshots in the area. After a brief chase, a police officer shot Adam once in the chest.
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Adeena J. Weiss-Ortiz, a lawyer for Adam’s family, told reporters Thursday afternoon that “the videos speak for themselves.”
Weiss-Ortiz said she is “not going to deny” that an object in the child’s hand seconds before the shooting could have been a firearm, but she said the video made it clear that “Adam during the last second of his life did not have a gun in his hand.”
“If you’re shooting an unarmed child with his hands in the air, it is an assassination,” Weiss-Ortiz said.
“An officer is trained not to shoot an unarmed individual, not to shoot an unarmed child,” Weiss-Ortiz said. “If he asked him to toss it and show his hands and the kid complies, then he shouldn’t be shot.”
Chicago officials released footage of a controversial shooting that has reignited criticism of the police department and its use of force.
What the footage shows: The teenager is seen raising his hands above his head and complying with police commands when he was shot.
One video also appears to show the boy holding a gun behind his back an instant before the officer opened fire, but it is not clear whether he was still holding the gun as he raised his hands above his head.
The videos released today provide some answers about what happened the night Adam was killed. Here are some questions that remain unanswered.
Will the officer be charged? The Civilian Office of Police Accountability is still conducting an investigation into Adam’s shooting, and it’s not clear when their probe will come to an end.
If the officer is charged, can Cook County prosecutors handle the case or does it have to go to a special prosecutor? During a bond hearing for a 21-year-old man who was with Adam the night he died, Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said Adam had “a gun in his right hand.”
But shortly before the videos were released today, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office said the prosecutor “failed to fully inform himself before speaking in court.”
What is the lasting political damage to Lightfoot? Mayor Lori Lightfoot faced criticism over the handling of the shooting since day 1. And the shooting comes as critics accuse Lightfoot of slow walking police reforms she campaigned on.
The body camera video of the police killing of Adam Toledo shows the 13-year-old raising his hands above his head and complying with police commands when he was shot.
The video also appears to show the boy holding a gun behind his back an instant before the officer opened fire, but it is not clear whether he was still holding the gun as he raised his hands above his head. The city of Chicago Thursday released highly-anticipated videos and documents connected to the March 29 police shooting.
You can find them here. (Warning: The videos in the link show the killing of 13-year-old Adam. In the video titled “BWC 1 Shooting Officer,” the shooting happens right after the 2:05 mark. Viewer discretion is strongly advised.)
Chicago Police Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan showed reporters part of the body camera footage and a composite video at about 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
That video shows Adam and another person, whom authorities have identified as 21-year-old Ruben Roman Jr. walking together down a street in the Little Village neighborhood. Prosecutors said Roman fired a gun seven or eight times with Adam standing next to him and, at some point, handed the gun to the 13-year-old.
Body camera video from the shooting officer shows him chasing Adam through an alley and yelling for the boy to stop. Adam stopped after a brief chase.
A composite video, which was put together by the Police Department, freezes on a frame appearing to show a gun in the boy’s hand.
The officer can then be heard telling Adam, “show me your hands,” and the boy does. The officer shoots a single shot as the boy is raising his arms above his head.
Deenihan said it is “less than a second” between the moment on the video where a gun can be seen and the single gunshot.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot fought back tears during a Thursday afternoon press conference where she urged Chicagoans to remain peaceful after the release of body camera footage of the police killing of 13-year-old Adam Toledo.
Lightfoot — herself the mother of a 13-year-old — said the videos are “incredibly difficult to watch.”
“No parent should have a video broadcast widely of their child’s last moments, much less be placed in the terrible situation of losing their child in the first place,” Lightfoot said.
“As a mom, this is not something you want children to see,” she said.
The mayor urged residents to withhold judgment on what they’ll see in the videos, pending the outcome of an investigation into the shooting by the Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability.
“This remains a complicated and nuanced story, and we all must proceed with deep empathy and calm — and, importantly, peace.”