CHICAGO — An attorney for the Chicago Police Officer who fatally shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo said he doesn’t expect the cop will be charged with a crime.
Officer Eric Stillman, 34, shot Toledo after chasing him down a Little Village alley on March 29, according to documents released by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability Thursday. Stillman has been with the department for five years.
The officer’s attorney, Tim Grace, of law firm Grace and Thompson, who has represented several Chicago police officers and the police union in the past, said he was retained by the union to represent Stillman. On Thursday, he said he has seen all the video footage and does not expect the officer to be charged with any wrongdoing or any crimes.
“I do not think he will be prosecuted for a crime, and I do believe that if COPA and the Police Department are fair and look at the undisputed evidence, he will be exonerated of any type of a charge,” Grace said.
Grace maintained Toledo was holding a gun at the moment he was shot, despite video evidence to the contrary.
“He has a gun in his right hand,” Grace said of Toledo. “There’s no doubt in the world that he has a gun in his right hand.”
Body-camera footage shows an officer chasing Toledo through an alley, with the officer yelling at Toledo to stop. The officer catches up to Toledo, who appears to have stopped running near a gap in a fence between the alley and a church parking lot. Video from a different angle appears to show Toledo toss the gun behind the fence moments before he is shot.
The officer flashes a strobe flashlight at Toledo and says, “Hands! Show me your fucking hands!”
Immediately after commanding Toledo to show his hands, the officer shot Toledo at close distance. Toledo’s hands were raised when he was shot, the footage shows.
Footage released by police does not show Toledo point or raise a gun at the officer at the end of the chase. Toledo does not appear to be holding the gun as the officer shot him.
John Catanzara, president of the police union, said in an interview on CNN that Stillman had eight-tenths of a second to assess whether or not Toledo was still holding the weapon when he fired at the teen.
“There’s no way a rational person can say they can process that and their muscle reaction would be less than one second. The officer does not have to wait to be shot at or shot in order to respond and defend himself,” Catanzara said.
Since mid-2017, four use of force reports and three complaints have been filed against Stillman, according to the Invisible Institute. The group, which collects and publishes information about police misconduct in Chicago, initially said there were no complaints against Stillman but later clarified its database had not been updated.
Additionally, the officer has eight honorable mentions, received a Military Service Award from the Police Department and is a recipient of the Superintendent’s Award of Valor, according to the Citizens Police Data Project.
Stillman has worked in some of the toughest neighborhoods in the city and served his country honorably overseas, Grace said.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot defended the officer during a Thursday news conference before the videos came out, saying people who watched the footage would “see that officer spring into action to try to revive Adam, to call for medical assistance.”
“… I know most officers go through their whole career and they never fire their weapon in the line of duty,” Lightfoot said. “I also know that every time it happens, it’s extraordinarily traumatizing for them. … There are a lot of people who will probably be angry hearing me say that, but that is the fact.”
Lightfoot also said it’s hard on officers and their families when a police officer has to shoot someone.
“This is a hard thing. It’s complicated,” Lightfoot said. “Police-involved shootings always invoke a significant amount of emotion, as well they should.”
Lightfoot’s defense of Stillman has been heavily criticized on social media, where many have said the mayor is prioritizing an officer who killed a 13-year-old over the death of Toledo and the trauma inflicted on his family. Some are calling on her to resign and to defund the Police Department.
Grace said authorities should hold Ruben Roman, the 21-year-old who was with Toledo during the incident, responsible for the boy’s death.
“I think also that we should believe our mayor, Mayor Lightfoot, who said we are going to find out who the person is that gave him that gun. We know who that person is and it is incumbent on the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office to charge that adult with felony murder because he is instrumental in the tragic death of this juvenile,” Grace said.
Roman, 21, was ordered held on $150,000 bond Saturday, after being charged with felony reckless discharge, unlawful use of a weapon and child endangerment, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and court records. Roman was previously charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest related to the March 29 shooting in Little Village.
Since the shooting, Grace said Stillman has been “absolutely broken up over the fact that he had to use deadly force,” adding he is upset the media has not shown concern for the officer.
In video footage released after the shooting, Stillman appears shaken. Grace said the video shows Stillman tried to render aid on Toledo after shooting him.
” … There is a callous disregard for the well-being of the officers who do not want to use deadly force ever. There has been no intellectual curiosity at all about what this officer is going through,’ Grace said.
“If someone were to drive by his house at 3 o’clock in the morning there is one light on, the kitchen light, where he’s sitting at the table, alone, shaking his head, saying, ‘Why didn’t he just listen to me? Why did he send messages to me that required me to use my training and use deadly force?’ And he’s going to live with that for the rest of his life,” Grace said.
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