Chicago, IL — Sixteen days ago, Chicago police shot and killed a 13-year-old boy, Adam Toledo. The incident hit the city so hard that even Mayor Lori Lightfoot called for the release of the body camera footage so the community can have some answers. The boy's mother also called for the release of the footage, telling the Chicago-Sun-Times her son wanted to be a police officer when he grew up.
“He wanted to be a cop when he grew up,” Elizabeth Toledo told the Sun-Times of her son, Adam. “And next thing you know, a cop took his life.”
Now, after constant pressure from the community, the video has been released. The video dispels any claims by police that Adam was a threat as he had his empty hands up when the officer killed him.
The video released by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability includes 17 bodycam videos from involved and responding police officers, four third-party videos, one OEMC transmission, two audio recordings of 911 calls, six ShotSpotter recordings, and case and response reports.
"He put his hands up and was still murdered. So I have a question: what more could he have done?" said Rabbi Michael Ben Yosef, Chicago Activist Coalition for Justice.
According to police, they responded to a ShotSpotter alert early that Monday morning. When police arrived on scene, according to the report, they saw two males who ran from the scene. One of the males was Adam and the other was 21-year-old Ruben Roman who was seen on surveillance footage firing the gun that night. He then gave the gun to Adam and the pair ran away.
Chicago police officer Eric Stillman fired the fatal shot into the Adam's chest and as the video shows, Adam's hands were in the air when that happened. Police issued their own heavily edited version of the video in which they claim Adam was holding a gun. However, at the time the shot was fired, Adam's hands appear to be empty.
A gun was found several feet away from Adam's body with the slide pulled all the way back, indicating it had fired its last shot and was empty. Adam had tossed the gun prior to Stillman killing him, meaning Stillman killed an unarmed child.
Naturally, police apologists are defending the shooting by claiming that Stillman only had a second to decide whether or not he should kill Adam and since there was so little time, his only obvious choice was killing the child.
"This incident was solved in .8 milliseconds, so it happened very quickly, it happened probably faster than science had proved an officer would be able to think his way through the situation," said Ed Farrell, former U.S. Marshals Service supervisory inspector.
"Within a second before that, we see what appears to be a gun in Toledo's hand and that he drops it before he raises his hands," ABC7 Legal Analyst Gil Soffer, a former federal prosecutor, explained. "If that's the case, the officer has a very credible defense."
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Tony Thedford of Thedford Garber Law disagrees and points out what is evident in the video that Adam's hands were empty, making him unarmed at the time he was killed.
"It appears to me that the young man had his hands up when he was shot," said Thedford. "It appears to me that when the young man made the move to the gate or the fence, that opening where the shooting occurred, before he turned around it appears if he had a gun he disposed of it right before the shooting. It's very evident to me that he did not have the gun at the time the officer fired his weapon."
"You see Mr. Toledo raise his hands and turn around," said attorney Anthony Burch. "If you look at that and listen to what is going on, he is following the directions of the police officer and he's shot."
"I want to say to the momma, I'm here with you in solidarity. We will fight with you all the way," said Gloria Pinex, whose son was also killed by a Chicago police officer.
"When I seen the video today, something inside of me died," said Kristian Armendiaz, Little Village Community Council. "I couldn't even bear to watch the whole video by myself. I felt like my childhood just died."
"When they saw that video today, I thought about my three kids. I thought about the teenagers, the youth of Little Village. We need to start funding the community," said Maria Castillo, Little Village resident.
Late Thursday night, attorneys for the family thanked COPA for the swift release of the video and echoed the sentiment from the attorneys above pointing out the fact that Adam complied before Stillman killed him.
"I'm not going to deny that, that it could have been a gun. But I can't tell you with 100% certainty until I have that video forensically analyzed and enhanced," said Adeena Weiss Ortiz, attorney. "But it's not relevant, because he tossed the gun. If he had a gun, he tossed it. The officer said 'show me your hands,' he complied, he turned around."
"At the time Adam was shot he did not have a gun, OK? In that slow-mo version, whatever he had in his hand whether it was a gun or something else, there was something in his hand, he approaches the fence, he lets it go, he turns around and he's shot," she added.
Below is that video, warning, it is graphic.