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Video Appears To Show Adam Toledo Wasn’t Holding Gun When He Was Shot By Cop, Refuting Claim Of Prosecutor, Cop’s Lawyer

The Cook County State's Attorney's Office backtracked on a previous claim 13-year-old Toledo was holding a gun when he was fatally shot by a police officer.

A memorial to 13-year-old Adam Toledo, who was fatally shot by a Chicago Police officer on March 29 in Little Village.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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LITTLE VILLAGE — Body-cam video of a police officer shooting Adam Toledo appears to contradict what officials have previously asserted: That the 13-year-old boy was holding a gun when he was shot and killed.

Officials on Thursday released video footage of the fatal police shooting, showing the foot chase that culminated in Toledo’s killing. The graphic video appears to show Toledo attempting to raise his empty hands before he an officer shot the boy in his chest.

Whether the teenaged boy had a gun or threatened officers was the subject of intense speculation prior to the footage being released.

At a bond court hearing this week for Ruben Roman, who authorities — including Mayor Lori Lightfoot — said passed Toledo the gun before he was killed, a prosecutor with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office told a judge Toledo had the gun in his hand as he was shot.

“The officer tells [Toledo] to drop it — ‘drop it, drop it’ — as [Toledo] turns toward the officer. [Toledo] has a gun in his right hand. The officer fires one shot at [Toledo], striking him in the chest,” a prosecutor told a judge.

But just before the video of the incident was released Thursday, the State’s Attorney’s Office backtracked on that statement.

“An attorney who works in this office failed to fully inform himself before speaking in court,” Sarah Sinovic, spokeswoman for the State’s Attorney’s Office, said in a statement. “Errors like that cannot happen and this has been addressed with the individual involved. The video speaks for itself.”

Sinovic did not say why it took prosecutors five days to correct that information.

toledo shooting
A screengrab of police body worn camera footage shows the moment before Adam Toledo is fatally shot.

Video released by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability on Thursday shows Roman and Toledo standing together when Roman appears to fire multiple shots at a target that is off-camera. The two then run off. Later, an officer chases Toledo through an alley, yelling at him to stop, which Toledo eventually does in front of a break in a wooden fence.

The officer’s body camera appears to show Toledo holding a gun at the end of the chase, but footage from a nearby surveillance camera shows Toledo ditching the weapon behind a fence as the officer catches up to him.

The officer tells Toledo to show his hands. A moment later, the officer fires one shot at Toledo, fatally striking the 13-year-old in his chest. Toledo appears to be raising his empty hands in compliance with the officer just as he is shot.

A gun was found at the scene, lying along the back of the wooden fence.

The officer is identified in reports released by COPA as 10th District Officer Eric Stillman. Despite the videos, Stillman’s attorney said there is no doubt Toledo was holding a gun when the officer shot him.

Attorney Tim Grace, of 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 the officer. 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.  

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.

Credit: Courtesy Chicago Police Department
Chicago Police magnified this screenshot of body camera footage to show Adam Toledo allegedly carrying a gun at the conclusion of a foot chase.

Before the video’s release, police officials would not comment on whether Toledo had a gun on him. Supt. David Brown repeatedly refused to answer questions about which of the “males” had a gun.

On Wednesday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she has seen the videos. She would not comment on what they show, though she said Toledo did not shoot at any police officers.

Before Lightfoot saw videos relevant to the shooting, someone described what they showed to her. In a press conference April 5, she repeatedly said Toledo had a gun.

Police on Thursday released a video compilation of the event, which includes a blown-up screenshot that appears to show Toledo with a gun at the conclusion of the foot chase. However, the gun was not in his hand as he was shot, according to the video footage.

Police brass have yet to comment on the full release of the video. In a meeting with reporters prior to the video’s public release, Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said the incident from the conclusion of the foot chase to the fatal shooting happened in one second.

“You watch the real time video, you have a totally different perspective” of the incident, Deenihan said.

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