police shootings

Video Shows Chicago Police Killing 13-Year-Old With His Hands Up

Photo: Shafkat Anowar/AP/Shutterstock

Chicago officials on Thursday published videos showing the fatal shooting by police of 13-year-old Adam Toledo last month. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the videos, which show that Toledo’s hands were raised before he was shot, “incredibly difficult to watch” during a Thursday press conference and called for calm ahead of expected protests.

Toledo was killed in the early morning hours of March 29 after police responded to a report of gunfire on the city’s west side. Two officers in a patrol car encountered Toledo and 21-year-old Ruben Roman in an alleyway and gave chase on foot. According to footage from the officers’s body-worn cameras reviewed by Intelligencer, one officer tackled Roman, while the other chased Toledo, who was running about a dozen feet ahead next to a wooden fence on his right.

That officer, identified as Eric Stillman, yelled “Show me your fucking hands!” at Toledo, who then stopped, raised both of his hands above his shoulders, and turned left to face the officer. On video, Toledo and Stillman were now parallel, with the officer’s flashlight shining directly onto Toledo and his hands. In the next moment, Stillman yelled “drop it” — it is not clear if Toledo was holding an object — and fired a single shot into Toledo’s upper right chest. Toledo immediately crumbled to the ground.

Stillman ran to Toledo and called for an ambulance over the radio after reporting “shots fired by the police.” Stillman turned over Toledo, who was curled on his left side and barely moving, and asked “Where are you shot?” Toledo gave no response. Other officers approached and started chest compressions on Toledo, but he was pronounced dead on the scene.

Roman, who was arrested, has been charged with carrying and firing a gun that police say they recovered at the scene. On Thursday, Lightfoot bemoaned the scourge of gun violence in Chicago. “We can’t have that be what young people experience in our city,” she said. “Simply put, we failed Adam.”

The Chicago Sun-Times has published a composite of all the video evidence released by the city’s s Civilian Office of Police Accountability, including the extremely graphic video of the shooting. One of the videos released was recorded by a security camera with a clear view of a large break in the fence from the other side of the officer’s position, which captured Toledo’s movements seconds before he was shot. The Chicago Tribune described what the video showed:

As he stops at the gap where he was eventually shot, his right arm can be seen moving behind the fence, making an underhanded throwing motion toward the area where the gun is later recovered, just before he turns back toward the officer and slumps to the ground. Police have previously said a weapon was recovered at the scene, as have Cook County prosecutors. Police reiterated that Thursday, when they showed the video footage to reporters earlier in the afternoon ahead of COPA’s release.

The footage was released after the city’s top lawyer, Celia Meza, who met with attorneys representing the Toledo family that determined that all the video evidence of the police killing should be made public.

COPA, the city’s agency for investigating allegations of officer misconduct, is currently investigating the incident, “which includes not only the officer’s use of deadly force but also the actions of other involved officers leading up to and following the deadly shooting to determine whether each officers’ actions complied with [Police] Department policy directives and training,” according to a statement. Officials told the Chicago Tribune earlier this week that the inquiry is still in its early stages. As is standard in police shooting investigations, COPA has also shared the evidence with the Cook County prosecutor’s office to determine if criminal charges against the officers may be warranted. The Tribune reports Stillman has been a police officer since 2015 and has no record of complaints against him.

On Thursday, Lightfoot and the attorneys for the Toledo family issued a joint statement calling for calm in Chicago. “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,” the statement read. “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.”

The video of Toledo’s death comes amid yet another tense national reckoning with police brutality and accountability. On Sunday, in the midst of the murder trial of George Floyd’s killer Derek Chauvin, a police officer shot and killed a 20-year-old Black man, Daunte Wright, in a Minneapolis suburb around 10 miles away. The officer who killed Wright, Kimberly Potter, has been charged with manslaughter.

Video Shows Police Killing 13-Year-Old With His Hands Up