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Pilsen, Little Village, Back of the Yards

Why Did Police Shoot Adam Toledo? Week After 13-Year-Old Slain, Few Details Revealed

The shooting has gained national attention, but details about how Toledo was killed — and why it took two days to inform his family — have been slow to trickle out.

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CHICAGO — Officials are still releasing few details about the slaying of Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old boy whom police shot and killed one week ago in Little Village.

The shooting has gained national attention, but details about how Toledo was killed — and why it took two days to inform his family — have been slow to trickle out. It wasn’t until Friday that the city’s police oversight agency committed to releasing video of the shooting, and officials still haven’t committed to a time for its release.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Supt. David Brown held a news conference Monday where Lightfoot said she has not seen video of the shooting, and Brown refused to answer questions about if Toledo had a gun when police shot and killed the boy.

Brown did give a timeline of the shooting and the events in between Toledo’s slaying and his family being informed, saying police faced issues with identifying Toledo and alerting the boy’s family.

Meanwhile, Toledo’s family is raising money for his funeral and looking for answers as to what happened.

An attorney for the Toledos said Friday the family “doesn’t have all the information” and is waiting for the police and COPA to provide them with the video of Toledo’s shooting “as soon as possible.”

The shooting happened about 2:30 a.m. March 29.

Officers were responding to a ShotSpotter alert of eight shots fired in the 2300 block of South Sawyer Avenue when they saw two “males” in an alley, and one of them had a gun, Brown said. The officers chased, “which resulted in an armed confrontation,” Brown said.

An officer shot, fatally hitting Toledo in his chest.

Brown refused to answer questions about which of the “males” had a gun.

After Toledo was killed, a member of Brown’s staff called him, waking him up, and told the superintendent “the subject seemed very young,” Brown said. Brown told the officers to try to identify Toledo.

There was no identification on Toledo’s body, and the man who had been with Toledo gave officers a false name for the boy, Brown said.

“We lost considerable time trying to identify Adam because of the wrong name,” Brown said.

Officers checked Toledo’s fingerprints three times but did not find matches in their records, nor could they find reports of him in their open cases of missing people, Brown said.

Detectives then began to review cases of missing people who had returned home, and one found a case report that matched Toledo, who had still not been identified, Brown said.

On Wednesday — two days after Toledo was killed — police contacted his mother, Elizabeth Toledo, and told her the description of her son matched that of an unidentified person in the morgue, Brown said.

Elizabeth Toledo went to the morgue and confirmed the boy killed by police was her son, Brown said.

The boy had been reported missing, but he returned home and was there March 27 — during which time a detective called Elizabeth Toledo and she told police her son was no longer missing, which is why his missing persons case had been closed, Brown said. Adam Toledo left home again late March 27 or early March 28, and the family thought he was missing during the time police were trying to identify his body.

The officer who shot Toledo has been placed on administrative duties for 30 days, which is “routine protocol,” Brown said. The Civilian Office of Police Accountability is investigating the shooting. Lightfoot said she has urged the agency to be “expeditious.”

COPA initially said it would not release video of the shooting due to Toledo’s age — but, amid mounting pressure, the agency reversed course Friday and said it would release the video within 60 days. The office has first invited Toledo’s mother to watch the video.

Brown, who has seen the video, declined to provide further details on the shooting until COPA has finished its investigation. He refused to say if Toledo had a gun.

But Lightfoot — who said she has not seen the video, as she wants Toledo’s mother to see it first — repeatedly said Toledo had a gun. She did not say why she thinks Toledo had a gun.

Lightfoot said the city will use all its resources to track down the origins of the gun and prosecute whoever was responsible for it getting to a child.

“We must take this tragedy as a seminal moment and target all of the factors that allowed it to happen in the first place,” Lightfoot said. “Let’s be clear: An adult put a gun in a child’s hand. A young, impressionable child, and one who should not have been provided with lethal force, a weapon that could — and did — irrevocably change the course of his life. … It’s way past time for us to say, ‘No more.'”

Lightfoot wouldn’t say if she knows if Toledo’s mother has scheduled a time to see the video, saying she will let COPA address that.

Lightfoot also said the Police Department will reform its foot chase policy, which endangers officers and community members.

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