DOWNTOWN — Nearly a year after Chicago police officers killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez in separate shootings, dozens of people rallied Downtown Wednesday night to protest the decision not to prosecute either cop for their deaths.
Led by Alvarez’s family and local activists, supporters demonstrated at Federal Plaza and marched to Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office in the Loop. Many wore white shirts that read, “Justice for Anthony” and carried signs reading, “Black and Brown youth deserve long lives.”
Alvarez’s now-3-year-old daughter also was at the rally with relatives.
“We are disappointed in the leaders of our city,” said Roxana Figueroa, Alvarez’s cousin. “We are devastated but we are not defeated. We will not stop until we get justice.”
Foxx said Tuesday officer Eric Stillman would not face charges for killing Toledo in a Little Village alley, and officer Evan Solano would not be charged for killing Alvarez just blocks from his home in Portage Park.
The fatal shootings happened two days apart in March 2021, both involving foot chases.
Foxx said Tuesday both families were “heartbroken” when she met with them to tell them the news.
Figueroa said she was stunned by Foxx’s decision. She said she rewatched the video footage of her cousin’s killing to better understand the decision, even though it was traumatic, especially hearing her cousin’s last words. But she couldn’t understand.
Foxx “failed us and that’s it — she made the wrong decision,” she told Block Club.
Figueroa said the family wants Solano to face federal charges and be fired from the force, which the family has demanded since the shooting.
Toledo’s family did not attend but Baltazar Enriquez, an activist with the Little Village Community Council who has worked with the family, said the community group also wants the U.S. Justice Department to prosecute Solano and Stillman.
“We need to prosecute them so they know they are not above the law,” Enriquez said. “We will fight and continue fighting.”
While Foxx’s office ruled out criminal charges, the officers could still face discipline from the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which oversees potential misuse of force at the Police Department.
Both families have filed wrongful death lawsuits against the city.
Solano was stripped of his police powers after shooting Alvarez. COPA has finished its investigation of the shooting, and Supt. David Brown has until the end of March to review the agency’s findings and decide what discipline, if any, to impose against Solano.
“This does not end for you, Evan Solano,” Figueroa said. “We still have hopes that Brown makes the right decision.”
The family is also still holding out hope that police and Foxx continue investigating Solano’s conduct on the force, which included a road rage incident in which he pointed his gun at another driver in Logan Square less than two months after he killed Alvarez.
Attorney Tania Dimitrova, who represents the Alvarez family, said the family asked Foxx to look into the Logan Square incident at their meeting.
“I hope that they bring charges against him for something,” Dimitrova told Block Club. “What he did there was criminal. That was just insane.”
A COPA investigation into Toledo’s death is ongoing.
Kamran Siddiqi, an activist with PSL Chicago who helped organize the rally, said despite the disappointment, he urged people to be loud and to hold politicians accountable.
“We are going to continue to fight for victims of police terror and we will continue to demand that all killer cops be jailed,” Siddiqi said.
Both shootings — especially that of Toledo — generated national controversy.
Toledo had snuck away from his home and family the night of March 29, 2021, when he was killed.
Body-camera footage from the shooting shows Stillman — a 10th District tactical unit officer — chasing Toledo through an alley, yelling at the teen to stop. In the video, Stillman 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 tossing a gun behind the fence moments before he was shot.
Stillman flashed a strobe flashlight at Toledo and said, “Hands! Show me your fucking hands!”
Immediately after commanding Toledo to show his hands, Stillman shot the boy at close distance. Toledo’s hands were raised when he was shot, the footage shows.
There was less than one second between the time Toledo turned to face Stillman, the gun still in his hand, and Stillman shooting as the 13-year-old dropped the gun, Foxx said.
“We’ve concluded that there was no evidence to prove that Officer Stillman acted with criminal intent,” Foxx said. “Officer Stillman fired only one shot. … [He] reacted to the perceived threat presented by Adam Toledo, who he believed at the time was turning toward him to shoot him.”
“Adam obeyed the police officer’s commands, stopped running, had his hands up in the surrender position, and was nevertheless shot and killed by officer Stillman,” Adeena Weiss Ortiz and Joel Hirschhorn, lawyers for Toledo’s family, said Tuesday.
Alvarez was walking near a gas station March 31, 2021 when Solano and his partner drove up to him and began chasing him down an alley on foot. Police officials have never made it clear why officers ran after Alvarez.
Alvarez slipped and fell while he was running, Foxx said. He had a cellphone in one hand and a gun in the other, and he tried to push himself up and slipped again, she said.
Solano, coming around the corner, saw Alvarez “crouching” on the ground and thought the 22-year-old was waiting to ambush him, Foxx said. He shot Alvarez five times.
Solano had ordered Alvarez to drop the gun, Foxx said. Alvarez had a gun, but the footage did not show him raising it or pointing it at anyone leading up to the shooting.
An autopsy showed Solano shot Alvarez in his back.
Although there wasn’t evidence for criminal charges for Solano, the officers involved in Alvarez’s death “themselves created the conditions in which the use of deadly force became necessary,” Foxx said.
“First, it was unnecessary for the officers to stop and engage with Mr. Alvarez, who was walking through a gas station parking lot, holding food and drink. He was not committing any crimes that were readily apparent to the officers at the time,” Foxx said. “Second, Officer Solano may have committed several foot pursuit policy violations during his foot chase of Mr. Alvarez, such as rounding corners blind without first slowing to assess any danger and not creating distance or waiting for his partner.”
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