Adam Toledo: Bodycam footage of 13-year-old boy being shot dead by Chicago police officer released
Video report by ITV News US Correspondent Emma Murphy
Police in Chicago have released footage of an officer shooting dead a 13-year-old boy in an alley.
Bodycam footage shows the officer shouting "drop it" and as Adam Toledo turns towards him, shooting the teenager once in the chest.
The boy does not appear to be holding a gun when he begins to raise his hands in the split seconds before he was shot but police footage shows a gun close to where he fell.
Prosecutors allege Toledo was with 21-year-old Ruben Roman who they claim had just fired a gun at a passing car which drew police to the area.
Video released by Chicago police department shows an officer chasing Adam Toledo before shooting
Small groups of protesters gathered at a police station and marched downtown on Thursday night, but there were few signs of widespread demonstrations in the city.
The release of the footage and other investigation materials on Thursday comes at a sensitive time, with the ongoing trial in Minneapolis of former Officer Derek Chauvin accused of the murder of George Floyd, and the recent police killing of another black man, Daunte Wright, in one of that city’s suburbs.
Small groups of protesters gathered at a police station and marched downtown Thursday night, but there were few signs of widespread demonstrations in the city.
Nineteen seconds elapsed from when Officer Eric Stillman got out of his squad car at 3am on March 29 to when he shot Adam Toledo.
His bodycam footage shows him chasing the teenager 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!”
Adam 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 boy, Stillman radios in for an ambulance.
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He can be heard imploring Toledo to “stay awake,” and as other officers arrive, an officer says he can’t feel a heartbeat and begins administering CPR.
Shortly after the footage was released, Mayor Lori Lightfoot called for calm: “We live in a city that is traumatised by a long history of police violence and misconduct.
“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.”
In a lengthy email, Stillman’s lawyer Tim Grace said Toledo left the officer no choice but to shoot.
“The juvenile offender had the gun in his right hand... looked at the officer which could be interpreted as attempting to acquire a target and began to turn to face the officer attempting to swing the gun in his direction,” Mr Grace wrote.
“At this point the officer was faced with a life threatening and deadly force situation.
"All prior attempts to deescalate and gain compliance with all of the officer’s lawful orders had failed.”
But Adeena Weiss-Ortiz, an lawyer for Adam Toledo’s family, told reporters the footage and other videos “speak for themselves.”
Ms 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,” she said.
“The officer said, ’Show me your hands.' He complied. He turned around.”
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 released Thursday.
Ms Weiss-Ortiz said that she looked into Stillman’s record but found no prior disciplinary issues.
Ms Lightfoot, who along with the police superintendent had called on the police accountability board to release the video, asked the public to remain calm but decried the city’s long history of police violence and misconduct, especially in ethnic minority communities.
She said too many young people are left vulnerable to “systemic failures that we simply must fix.”
Choking up at times, Ms Lightfoot described watching the video footage as “excruciating.”
“As a mom, this is not something you want children to see,” she said.
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 led police to respond to gunshots that morning in Little Village, a predominantly Hispanic neighbourhood on the city’s southwest side.
Toledo, who was Hispanic, and Roman fled on foot when confronted by police.
The 21-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest.
The review board, an independent board that investigates all shootings in Chicago involving police, initially said it couldn’t release the video because it showed the shooting of a minor, but the board changed course after the mayor and police superintendent asked for it to be made public.
Lucky Camargo, an activist and lifelong resident of Little Village, decided not to watch the video. But neighbours described it to her as “an execution.”
“This was wrong,” she said. “I didn’t need to watch the video to make that assessment on my own. I don’t feel there was any justification to shoot someone.”
Previous police shooting videos that went public have sparked major protests, including one released in 2015 showing a white officer shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times, killing him. The officer was eventually convicted of murder.
Before the latest video’s release, some businesses in downtown Chicago’s “Magnificent Mile” shopping district boarded up their windows.
Ms Lightfoot said the city has been preparing for months for a verdict in the Chauvin trial and that it had activated a “neighbourhood protection plan” ahead of Thursday’s video release.
Adam’s mother described him as a curious and goofy seventh grader who loved animals, riding his bike and junk food. The family issued a statement urging people to avoid violent protests.
“We pray that for the sake of our city, people remain peaceful to honour Adam’s memory and work constructively to promote reform,” the family said.
Ms Lightfoot and lawyers for the family and city said that in addition to the release of the video, all investigation materials should be made public, including a slowed-down compilation of what happened that morning.
“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,” they said in a joint statement.
“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.”
Whether the officer is charged with a crime is up to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, which gets the accountability board’s report after it completes its investigation.