Chicago’s police accountability office has released graphic body-camera video footage showing a police officer shooting and killing a 13-year-old in an alley more than two weeks ago, as the boy appeared to be raising his hands to give himself up.
The nine-minute video released on Thursday begins with a police officer getting out of his squad car and running after Adam Toledo, who was Latino, in the early hours of March 29 in Little Village, a Mexican neighbourhood on the city’s West Side.
The officer yells at Toledo to “Stop!” before catching up with him and ordering him to show him his hands. Toledo appears to raise his hands right before the officer fires one shot and then immediately runs to the boy as he falls to the ground.
“Shots fired, shots fired. Get an ambulance over here now,” the officer is heard saying in the video.
“Stay with me, stay with me. Somebody bring the medical kit now!”
A cache of documents released at the same time, identified 34-year-old Eric Stillman, who has been on the force for six years, as the officer who shot and killed Toledo. He has been on administrative duty since the shooting.
The release of the video is likely to rattle a nation already on edge over issues of policing, justice and race relations. The killing, along with Sunday’s fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright in a Minneapolis suburb and the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the May 2020 death of George Floyd, has raised tensions in Chicago.
“Chicago, as well as way too many parts of our country, has a long legacy of police violence and police misconduct that have left far too many residents, especially those who are Black and brown, in a constant state of fear and pain,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.
City officials urged people to remain calm as they prepared for civil unrest following the release of the video footage. Like some other American cities, Chicago experienced riots and looting after Floyd’s death, which was also caught on video.
‘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 the protests remained peaceful and there were no immediate reports of conflict.
A lawyer for the Toledo family, Adeena Weiss Ortiz, told a news conference after the release of the video that Toledo complied with 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.
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.”
Officers were chasing 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 (06:30 GMT) on March 29 in an alley, and, simply put, we failed Adam,” Lightfoot said during a news conference before the video was released.
The Chicago Police Department said immediately following the incident that Toledo had a gun in his hand.
It is unclear in the video whether he had a weapon at the time of the shooting, although The Associated Press news agency reported that authorities claimed a gun was recovered from the scene by investigators.
Some 33 data files, including other police body-camera videos, footage from nearby security cameras and documents related to the March 29 incident were also released by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, identifying Stillman as the officer involved.
Toledo’s family said in a statement released to local media that they appreciated the support they had received from the community and were grateful that protests in Chicago during the last few days remained peaceful.
“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.
The shooting has renewed calls for police reforms in the third-largest US city. 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.