A 13-year-old Latino boy from Chicago 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 at around 3 a.m. on 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 police-involved 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.”
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