In a reversal of its previous position, the Chicago agency tasked with investigating police shootings is now planning to release a video showing the police killing of 13-year-old Adam Toledo.
Adam was shot to death by a Chicago police officer early Monday morning in the city’s Little Village neighborhood, and the killing was captured by police body camera.
The agency had previously said a state law meant to protect the privacy of minors prevented the release of the video. Experts told WBEZ the city was misinterpreting the law, and shortly after that article was published, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or COPA, announced that it was changing course.
However, agency spokesman Ephraim Eaddy could not say when the video would be made public. He said the video would be released only after it had been viewed by the boy’s family.
An attorney for the family said that viewing would happen next week, however Eaddy said there was no specific date set for the meeting and he was not sure when it would happen.
Eaddy said COPA investigators were still looking for private camera footage and asking the public to come forward if they have any videos connected to the shooting. Eaddy said they would not meet with the family until they were certain they had obtained all relevant videos.
That means it could be weeks until the videos are released.
The earlier decision not to release the videos had been a source of controversy, with experts and activists criticizing Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown for not immediately releasing the body camera footage.
Chicago Police Department spokesman Don Terry said even though the department has released body camera footage of shootings in the past, it would not be doing so in this case because the person killed was a minor. Terry said the department was going to wait and defer to COPA’s legal reasoning.
In a press conference Friday, Adam’s mother, Elizabeth Toledo, called for the video to be released immediately.
Gunita Singh, a legal fellow at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said police body camera footage has been an increasing subject of legal battles over public records across the country.
“Now, more than ever, radical transparency is necessary for the public to better understand the nature of law enforcement agencies and and the conduct of the individuals employed by those agencies,” Singh said. “It’s an essential component of building trust and fostering accountability.”