CHICAGO — Just hours after claiming they could not release body camera footage of a Chicago Police officer fatally shooting 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Little Village Monday, a police oversight agency changed its tune and will make the videos available.
Toledo was shot in the chest by an officer early Monday in the 2300 block of South Sawyer Avenue, officials said. The Police Department has released few details about the incident, saying officers were responding to a ShotSpotter alert of shots fired when they encountered two people in an alley.
In an initial police statement more than 12 hours after the shooting, officials said one “armed male” was running from officers, who chased him. The “foot pursuit ensued which resulted in a confrontation in the alley … The officer fired his weapon striking the offender in the chest.” Police have described the encounter as an “armed confrontation.” A photo of a gun was shared by a police spokesman on Twitter, but police have not answered additional questions about the shooting or who the gun belonged to.
The shooting was captured on officer body worn cameras, according to the Civilian Office of Police Accountability. Agency officials initially said they could not publicly release that video because state law bars it when the victim is a juvenile. Attorney Matt Topic, who specializes in government transparency, said in a tweet that COPA’s interpretation of that law hasn’t stood up to court review.
With demands growing for the video to be released, COPA reversed course Friday.
“COPA has determined that certain provisions of state law intended to protect the confidentiality of juvenile records do not prohibit the agency’s release of material related to its investigation of a Chicago Police Officer’s fatal shooting of 13-year old Adam Toledo,” the agency said in a statement. “COPA will therefore follow established City policy, which requires public posting of material at the earliest point possible but no later than 60 days after the incident.”
Ahead of any public release, COPA is inviting Toledo’s family to view the footage, the agency said.
In a series of tweets Thursday night, Mayor Lori Lightfoot called on the office to release all videos captured on body-worn cameras of the incident. Critics said the mayor had nothing to “call for” and could release them if she wanted to.
“The Mayor and CPD can simply choose to release the body camera video of the shooting, as they have done many times when the footage exonerated an officer,” the group United Working Families wrote in a statement. “They do not need to ‘call on COPA’ or any other bureaucratic agency when in fact all of these agencies are ultimately appointed by the mayor.”
It’s unclear when the video will be released to the public. COPA spokesman Ephraim Eaddy said 911 calls, dispatcher records and incident reports will also be released within 60 days.
A spokesperson for Lightfoot and Chicago Police did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Supt. David Brown also has urged COPA to release the footage.
Meanwhile, Toledo’s family is raising money for his funeral and looking for answers as to what happened. Elizabeth Toledo, the boy’s mother, had reported him missing two days prior to the shooting. He came home Sunday night, but snuck out without her knowing.
When police arrived to ask her to identify his body Wednesday, she thought they were following up about his missing persons report, she said.
A Chicago Police Department spokesman said it took police two days to identify Toledo, which is why there was a lag in notifying his mother.
“At this time, the family doesn’t have all the information. All we know is that a child died,” family attorney Adeena Weiss Ortiz said Friday. “We are waiting for the full cooperation from the police and COPA and transparency in obtaining the video as soon as possible.”
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