Topline

Body camera footage released Thursday appears to show 13-year-old Adam Toledo without a weapon and his hands in the air at the moment he was fatally shot by a Chicago police officer, while the city’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, pleaded with Chicagoans to remain calm after viewing the video, which she described as “excruciating” and “incredibly difficult to watch.”

Key Facts

In the body camera video, an officer (whose identity has not yet been disclosed) is chasing Toledo down an alley when he shouts at the boy to “Freeze, stop! Stop right f—-ing now! Hey, show me your f—-ing hands!”

Toledo then turns toward the officer and puts both of his hands up, neither of which appear to be holding a gun, when the officer fires a single, fatal shot that hits Toledo in his upper chest. 

The officer immediately radios for an ambulance and begins performing chest compressions on the bloodied, mortally wounded boy, as the officer is heard saying, “Stay with me. Stay with me.” 

The boy was pronounced dead at the scene.

Key Background:

The shooting occurred shortly after 2:30 a.m. on March 29. According to Chicago police, officers were dispatched to the Little Village neighborhood when the department’s ShotSpotter technology (artificial intelligence that recognizes and alerts police to gunfire) detected eight shots. When police arrived, Toledo, a seventh-grader at Gary Elementary School, and a 21-year-old man named Ruben Roman ran from the responding officers. One officer tackled and arrested Roman while Toledo took off down an alley. The police claimed that an officer shot the boy after an “armed confrontation.” A gun was found in the area where the eight shots were fired. Over the weekend, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy alleged Toledo was holding a gun in his right hand when the officer shot him. On Thursday, a spokeswoman for the State’s Attorney’s Office addressed the inconsistency between the video and the prosecutor’s claims, stating, “an attorney who works in this office failed to fully inform himself before speaking in court. Errors like that cannot happen and this has been addressed with the individual involved.” The Chicago Civilian Office of Police Accountability initially did not plan to release footage of the shooting due to Toledo’s age but eventually relented after mounting public pressure. At a press conference Thursday afternoon, before the video’s release, Lightfoot urged Chicago residents to “reserve judgment” until the COPA “has done its work.” The mayor stated easy access to firearms contributed to the tragedy. “There are a number of forces that met up at 2:30 in the morning on March 29 in an alley,” Lightfoot asserted. “Simply put, we failed Adam, and we cannot afford to fail one more young person in our city.”

Big Number:

774. That’s how many people were murdered in Chicago last year, an increase of more than 50% compared to 2019, according to a database maintained by the Chicago Sun-Times. (There were 131 homicides in the first quarter of 2021, making it the most violent start to a year since 2017.)

Crucial Quote: 

“Every year, the Chicago Police Department recovers more guns than New York and L.A. combined, not because we have a better strategy, not because we pay more attention, but because we have too many damn guns on our streets,” said Lightfoot.

Further Reading:

Videos show Adam Toledo, 13, may have dropped gun as he raised his hands when CPD officer fatally shot him (WGN) 

Mayor Calls for Calm as Chicago Awaits Video of Police Fatally Shooting 13-Year-Old (NYT)