CHICAGO — Chicago police say the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo was a split-second decision, and he did not have a gun in his hand the moment he was shot.
Video footage of the shooting, released Thursday by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, shows a CPD officer, later identified as Eric Stillman, shooting Adam once in the chest around 2:30 a.m. on March 29 in the alley of the 2300 block of South Spaulding. Adam was shot after he and another man, 21-year-old Ruben Roman, allegedly ran away from police who were responding to the area for a report of gunfire.
COPA released 17 bodyworn camera videos, four third-party videos and several audio transmissions and police reports related to the shooting. Adam’s family and attorneys viewed the footage Tuesday at COPA’s West Town office.
“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,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Adam’s family said in a joint statement released a few hours before the videos were made public. “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.”
Speaking at a press conference a few hours after the videos were released, Adeena Weiss Ortiz, an attorney for Adam’s family, said: “At the time Adam was shot, he did not have a gun.”
“That child complied. Adam complied with the officer’s request,” Weiss Ortiz added. “The officer saw his hands were up and he pulled the trigger.”
Bodycam footage from the firing officer shows he and his partner briefly chasing Roman and Adam through an alley near Farragut Career Academy High School. The firing officer’s partner quickly tackles Roman, while the firing officer goes after Adam.
In the video footage, it appears Adam was holding a gun and dropped it behind a fence before slightly turning towards the officer with his hands raised. The officer then discharges his firearm, striking Adam once in the chest.
NOTE: WGN has edited the video in this story to stop at the moment just before 13-year-old Adam Toledo is shot. VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.
As officers and Chicago Fire Department personnel performed life-saving procedures, the officer who fired the shot soon finds a gun near the break in fence where the boy was shot.
Adam, a seventh grader at Gary Elementary School in Little Village, was pronounced dead at the scene. Roman was taken into custody and charged with resisting arrest, a misdemeanor. He was released from police custody a few hours later.
The footage released by COPA directly contradicts the account of the shooting given by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office during a related court hearing held over the weekend.
On Saturday, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy told a judge that Adam had a gun in his hand when he was fatally shot by a CPD officer. Bodycam footage — recorded by the officer who fired — indicates that the 13-year-old did have a gun, but he put it on the ground and raised his hands in the moments before the officer shot him once in the chest.
After the release of the video, small protests were held in some parts of the city. More are planned for Friday, including a large protest planned in Logan Square.
Toledo’s immediate family has yet to speak publicly, but an aunt of Toledo, Teres Chavarria, urged families Friday to hold their children close at the exact spot Adam was killed.
“I need to say this because I have it in my heart, please mom. Take care of your kids man! please,” she said.
On Friday afternoon, the attorneys representing the Toledo family issued a statement urging all protesters to remain peaceful.
“We understand that emotions in the community are running high in the wake of the release of police body camera and other videos depicting the March 29 police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo and that protests are planned for later today. The Toledo family implores everyone who gathers in Adam’s name to remain peaceful, respectful and nonviolent and to continue to work constructively and tirelessly for reform. The family is forever grateful to the leaders and members of Chicago’s Latino community and the residents of Little Village for their support in this time of grief and mourning.”