Mayor Lori Lightfoot Urges Chicagoans To Remain Calm As The City Prepares To Release Videos Of Police Shooting A 13-Year-Old Boy

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot appears at a press conference on Feb. 4, 2021. On Thursday, she spoke at a news conference ahead of the public release of videos connected to the fatal police shooting of Adam Toledo. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot appears at a press conference on Feb. 4, 2021. On Thursday, she spoke at a news conference ahead of the public release of videos connected to the fatal police shooting of Adam Toledo. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

Mayor Lori Lightfoot Urges Chicagoans To Remain Calm As The City Prepares To Release Videos Of Police Shooting A 13-Year-Old Boy

At times fighting back tears, Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday urged Chicagoans to remain peaceful as authorities prepare to release videos of the Chicago police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo last month.

During a midday press conference, the mayor described the videos as “incredibly difficult to watch.” Lightfoot – herself the mother of a 13-year-old – made an emotional plea with the city as officials brace for potential civil unrest. The videos are expected to be released Thursday afternoon, Lightfoot said.

“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.

Lightfoot did not describe the videos in detail, but did say the footage was “incredibly difficult to watch, particularly at the end.” Lightfoot said one video shows the officer who shot Toledo trying to revive him as he called for medical assistance.

When asked by reporters, Lightfoot added, “I’ve seen no evidence whatsoever that Adam Toledo shot at the police.”

She 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.”

The mayor repeatedly refused to answer specific questions about what the videos show, saying she couldn’t talk in detail due to ongoing investigations into the child’s killing.

The Toledo family viewed the video footage on Tuesday, and through a spokesperson described it as “extremely difficult and heartbreaking.” The spokesperson said they are conducting their own investigation and continue to meet with city officials.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which is charged with investigating police-involved shootings, had said on Tuesday that it would not immediately release the footage at the request of the family.

But the city’s Video Release Policy requires the body camera footage be released within 60 calendar days. Initially, the police accountability office said it was not allowed to release the video because the boy was a minor. But experts told WBEZ that was a misinterpretation of the law, and the agency reversed its position.

The release comes two and a half weeks after the shooting, which took place about 2:30 a.m. March 29.

It’s still unclear what the video shows, as the mayor and city officials who have seen it remain tight-lipped about its content. According to authorities, Toledo was armed with a handgun and was shot once in the chest by a police officer.

Police said officers were dispatched to the Little Village neighborhood on the city’s Southwest Side shortly before 3 a.m. after the department’s ShotSpotter technology detected the sound of eight gunshots in the area. When they arrived, Toledo and a 21-year-old man ran away. While chasing the teen, there was an “armed confrontation” during which the officer shot him, police said.

The 21-year-old, Ruben Roman, was charged earlier this week with reckless discharge of a firearm, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, endangerment of a child and violating probation.

This is a developing story.

Becky Vevea covers city politics for WBEZ. Follow her @beckyvevea. Patrick Smith contributed reporting for this story. Follow him @pksmid. Email him at psmith@wbez.org.