Chicago releases body-cam footage of police shooting Adam Toledo (13)

Teenager appears to raise his hands before being shot dead by police officer

Chicago's police accountability office has released to the public body-camera video footage showing a police officer shooting and killing 13-year-old Adam Toledo on March 29th, 2021. Video: Reuters

 

Chicago officials released to the public on Thursday a graphic body-camera video showing a police officer shooting and killing a 13-year-old boy while he appeared to be raising his hands in an alley more than two weeks ago.

The nine-minute video from Eric Stillman’s body camera showed the 34-year-old officer getting out of his squad car and running after Adam Toledo in an alley at 2.30am on March 29th in Little Village, a Mexican neighbourhood on the city’s West Side.

The video then showed Mr Stillman yelling “Stop” to Mr Toledo before he caught up to him and ordered him to show his hands. Mr Toledo appeared to raise his hands right before Mr Stillman fired one shot and then ran to the boy as he fell to the ground.

“Shots fired, shots fired. Get an ambulance over here now,” the police officer is heard saying in the video.

“Stay with me, stay with me” Mr Stillman said. “Somebody bring the medical kit now!”

Immediately following the incident, the Chicago Police Department said that Mr Toledo had a gun in his hand.

The release of the video was likely to rattle a nation already on edge over issues of policing, justice and race relations. Tensions were high on Thursday as Kimberly Potter, a former suburban police officer in Minnesota, appeared in court after she was charged in the killing last Sunday of Daunte Wright, a black man, during a traffic stop.

Hours earlier, the prosecution and defence rested their cases in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged in the death of George Floyd, which ignited a wave of protests last year.

Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability also released some 33 data files, including other police body-camera videos, footage from nearby security cameras and documents related to the March 29th incident.

One of the documents identified Mr Stillman, who has been on the force for six years, as the officer who shot and killed Mr Toledo. He has been placed on administrative duty.

The Chicago Police Department also released part of the same video on its website on Thursday. The department placed an arrow on a still frame, pointing to what appeared to be a handgun in Mr Toledo’s right hand before Mr Stillman opened fire.

In a caption, the police department said, “838 milliseconds between gun shown in hand and single shot.”

About five minutes and 30 seconds into the video, the officer shines a flashlight on a handgun near where officers worked frantically to save Mr Toledo’s life, giving him CPR.

‘Justice for Adam’

Protesters critical of police gathered in central Chicago, some of them blocking traffic. They were met by helmeted officers on foot, social media images showed, but there were no immediate reports of conflict.

Attorney for the Toledo family, Adeena Weiss Ortiz, told a news conference after the release of the video that Mr Toledo complied with Mr Stillman’s orders, dropped his weapon and turned around before the officer opened fire.

“I don’t know if the officer had enough time or not. All I know is the officer is trained to not shoot an unarmed individual,” she said.

Ms Ortiz said the Toledo family wanted “justice for Adam, whatever that may entail. This is a very close, tight-knit Hispanic family. All of those who lived with him adored this child.”

A memorial for Adam Toledo is set up in the alley where the 13 year old was shot by police on Chicago’s West Side, on Thursday, April 15th. Photograph: Brandon Dupre/New York Times
A memorial for Adam Toledo is set up in the alley where the 13 year old was shot by police on Chicago’s West Side, on Thursday, April 15th. Photograph: Brandon Dupre/New York Times

Officers were chasing Mr Toledo and a 21-year-old man after they received notification of eight shots fired in the area, the department said. The other man was arrested.

“There were a number of forces that met up at 2.30 in the morning on March 29th in an alley and, simply put, we failed Adam,” Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot told a news conference before the video was released.

Several politicians at the state and national levels reacted swiftly to the video of the incident.

Governor of Illinois JB Pritzker said in a statement that the moment called for justice for children and accountability in all public institutions.

John Catanzara, president of the Chicago police union known as the Fraternal Order of Police, told television network CNN the officer had only eight-tenths of a second to make the decision whether to shoot and his actions were justified.

“It is 100 per cent justified. That officer’s actions were actually heroic,” Mr Catanzara said.

Chicago officials and the Toledo family urged people to remain calm as the city prepared for civil unrest following the release of the video. They said more police officers and city equipment would be in place to protect businesses during any unrest.

The shooting has renewed calls for police reforms in the third-largest city in the United States. Chicago police have been under intense scrutiny since 2014 when a white officer shot and killed a black teenager. He was later convicted of second-degree murder. – Reuters