Apr 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Chicago releases video of fatal police shooting of 13-year-old boy

A small memorial is seen on April 15 in Chicago where 13-year-old Adam Toledo was shot and killed by a police officer.
A small memorial is seen on April 15 in Chicago where 13-year-old Adam Toledo was shot and killed by a police officer in March. Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/Getty Images

Chicago's independent police review board on Thursday released the body camera footage of an officer's fatal shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo on March 29.

The big picture: Tension continues to rise nationwide in response to police misconduct and racism. Thursday's footage release comes days after officer Kim Potter fatally shot Daunte Wright in a traffic stop near Minneapolis, where the trial of Derek Chauvin, a former police officer accused of murdering George Floyd, is ongoing.

  • Toledo's shooting also shines a spotlight on police shootings of Latinos. According to a data analysis by the Washington Post, Latino are disproportionally killed by law enforcement at the second-highest rate after Black Americans.
  • Residents of Little Village, a well-known and predominantly Latino neighborhood in Chicago, were left reeling in the wake of Toledo's death.

Details: The video released by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability shows an officer chasing Toledo, who was Mexican-American, on foot down an alley in Little Village.

  • After several seconds, the officer yells, “Police! Stop! Stop right (expletive) now!” As Toledo slows down, the officer shouts, “Hands! Hands! Show me your (expletive) hands!”
  • After the officer catches up to the teenager, Toledo turns toward the camera and the officer yells: “Drop it!”
  • The shaky and grainy footage shows Toledo had his arms at least partially raised when the officer, identified in a police report as Eric Stillman, fired a single round.
    • It's unclear whether Toledo was holding anything at the exact moment the officer fired his weapon. A lawyer for the Toledo family said Thursday that if the teen "had a gun, he tossed it."
    • "The officer said, ‘Show me your hands.’ He complied. He turned around," the attorney added.
    • Police, who were responding to reports of shots fired in the neighborhood, said Toledo had a handgun on him prior to the shooting. The video later shows the officer who fired his weapon shining a light on a handgun on the ground near Toledo after he was shot.
  • After being shot, Toledo immediately fell to the ground, holding his chest. In the footage, the officer calls for medical assistance and begins to perform chest compressions.

What they're saying: "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," Toledo family lawyers, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Corporation counsel said in a joint statement prior to the video's release.

  • "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," they added.

Lightfoot added in a news conference that “No family should ever 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," according to AP.

  • The mayor declined to say whether the video showed the teen holding a firearm when he was shot, but she called a prosecutor’s recent assertion that Toledo had a gun when he was shot "correct."
  • "I see no evidence whatsoever that Adam Toledo shot at police," Lightfoot added.

Zoom out: "Chicago, like other American cities, has struggled to stem a surge in shootings during the coronavirus pandemic. In the first quarter of 2021, there were 131 homicides, the most violent start to a year since 2017," the New York Times writes.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details from the video.

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