Stamford Advocate

Video shows Chicago teen wasn’t holding gun when shot by cop


CHICAGO — A 13-year-old Chicago boy appears to have dropped a handgun and begun raising his hands less than a second before a police officer shot and killed him last month, footage released Thursday under community pressure shows.

A still frame taken from Officer Eric Stillman’s jumpy nighttime body camera footage shows that Adam Toledo wasn’t holding anything and had his hands at least partially up when Stillman shot him in the chest around 3 a.m. March 29. Police, who were responding to reports of shots fired in the area, say the teen had a handgun on him before the shooting. And Stillman’s footage shows him shining a light on a handgun on the ground near Toledo after he shot him.

The release of the footage and other investigat­ion materials comes at a sensitive time, with the ongoing trial in Minneapoli­s of former Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd and the recent police killing of another Black man, Daunte Wright, in one of that city’s suburbs. Before the Civilian Office of Police Accountabi­lity, an independen­t board that investigat­es all policeinvo­lved shootings in Chicago, posted the material on its website, Mayor Lori Lightfoot called on the public to keep the peace and some downtown businesses boarded up their windows in the expectatio­n that there could be unrest.

“We live in a city that is traumatize­d by a long history of police violence and misconduct,” Lightfoot said. “So while we don’t have enough informatio­n to be the judge and jury of this particular situation, it is certainly understand­able why so many of our residents are feeling that all too familiar surge of outrage and pain. It is even clearer that trust between our community and law enforcemen­t is far from healed and remains badly broken.”

Nineteen seconds elapsed from when Stillman exited his squad car to when he shot Toledo. His bodycam footage shows him chasing Toledo on foot down an alley for several seconds and yelling “Police! Stop! Stop right (expletive) now!”

As the teen slows down, Stillman yells “Hands! Hands! Show me your (expletive) hands!”

Toledo then turns toward the camera, Stillman yells “Drop it!” and midway between repeating that command, he opens fire and Toledo falls down. While approachin­g the wounded teen, Stillman radios in for an ambulance. He can be heard imploring the boy to “stay awake,” and as other officers arrive, an officer says he can’t feel a heartbeat and begins administer­ing CPR.

Adeena Weiss-Ortiz, an attorney for Toledo’s family, told reporters after the footage and other videos were released that they “speak for themselves.”

“Adam, during the last second of his life, did not have a gun in his hand. The officer screamed at him, ‘Show me your hands.’ Adam complied,” she said.

Weiss-Ortiz said it’s irrelevant whether Toledo was holding a gun before he turned toward the officer.

“If he had a gun, he tossed it. The officer said show me your hands, he complied. He turned around,” she said.

The Chicago Police Department typically doesn’t release the names of officers involved in such shootings this early on in an investigat­ion, but Stillman’s name, age and race — he’s 34 and white — were listed in the investigat­ion reports COPA released Thursday.

Weiss-Ortiz said that she looked into Stillman and, “From what I understand, he had no prior discipline, no prior events.”

Lightfoot, who along with the police superinten­dent called on COPA to release the video, urged the public to remain peaceful and reserve judgment until the police accountabi­lity board can complete its investigat­ion. Choking up at times, she decried the city’s long history of police violence and misconduct, especially in Black and brown communitie­s, and said too many young people are left vulnerable to “systemic failures that we simply must fix.”

She also described watching the footage as “excruciati­ng.“

“As a mom, this is not something you want children to see,” said the mayor.

In addition to posting Stillman’s bodycam footage, the review board released footage from other bodycams, four third-party videos, two audio recordings of 911 calls, and six audio recordings from ShotSpotte­r, the technology that alerted police to gunshots in that area of Little Village, a predominan­tly Latino and Black neighborho­od on the city’s West Side, and led officers to head there that morning.

Toledo, who was Latino, and a 21-year-old man fled on foot when confronted by police, and Stillman shot the teen once in the chest following a foot chase during what the department described as an armed confrontat­ion. The 21-year-old man was arrested on a misdemeano­r charge of resisting arrest.

The review board initially said it couldn’t release the video because it involved the shooting of a minor, but it changed course after the mayor and police superinten­dent called for the video’s release.

Footage of the Toledo shooting had been widely anticipate­d in the city, where the release of some previous police shooting videos sparked major protests, including the 2015 release of footage of a white officer shooting Black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times, killing him.

Before the video’s release, some businesses in downtown Chicago’s “Magnificen­t Mile” shopping district boarded up their windows. Lightfoot said the city has been preparing for months for a verdict in the Chauvin trial and that it had activated a “neighborho­od protection plan” ahead of Thursday’s release.

“It happens now that these circumstan­ces are sitting next to each other,” she said.

The Toledo family, meanwhile, issued a statement urging people to “remain peaceful.”

Associated Press writers Kathleen Foody in Chicago and Corey Williams in West Bloomfield, Michigan, contribute­d to this report.

 ?? Tyler LaRiviere / Associated Press ?? Enrique Enriquez, left, and a community activist rally on 26th St. after the body camera footage of Chicago police killing Adam Toledo was released on Thursday.
Tyler LaRiviere / Associated Press Enrique Enriquez, left, and a community activist rally on 26th St. after the body camera footage of Chicago police killing Adam Toledo was released on Thursday.

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