LITTLE VILLAGE — Some neighbors and activists aren’t giving up hope the officer who fatally shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo a year ago will be criminally charged.
Residents and organizers met Tuesday near the alley where Toledo was killed to mark the one-year anniversary of Toledo’s death. They demanded a special prosecutor take on the case after Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx recently announced her office won’t charge the officer who shot Toledo.
Standing at West 24th Street and South Sawyer Avenue, the group’s members said Little Village needs justice — and it needs to heal.
Elizeth Arguelles, an organizer with Increase the Peace, said neighbors want a special prosecutor named to handle Toledo’s case like was done after police officer Jason Van Dyke killed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Arguelles said she was disappointed but “not surprised” the officer who killed Toledo hasn’t been charged.
“I feel like sometimes people in power feel like they can make decisions and the community isn’t going to say anything, but in that moment I felt like, ‘All right, if they’re not doing anything, I know my community is,'” said Arguelles, who helped organize Tuesday’s vigil.
An officer shot and killed Toledo early March 29, 2021, after a brief foot chase in Little Village. Toledo had dropped a gun and was holding up his empty hands when the officer shot him, video showed.
It took days for police to identify Toledo and inform his family.
Toledo’s slaying received national attention, with multiple protests held in Chicago. Activists have said the officer who shot Toledo, Eric Stillman, should be removed from the force and charged with murder. Stillman is still an officer, police spokesman Don Terry confirmed.
In the wake of Toledo’s death, the Police Department has revised its foot chase policy — but it still allows officers to chase people.
After Foxx’s announcement, attorneys for Toledo’s family said they are “profoundly disappointed” Stillman won’t be prosecuted, and they’ll seek monetary damages in civil court against the officer and the city. They’ll also contact the Department of Justice “to address this horrific travesty,” lawyers Adeena Weiss Ortiz and Joel Hirschhorn said in a statement.
“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,” the attorneys said. “Despite the painful loss of Adam, the Toledo family continues to call for peace on the streets of Chicago as they pursue justice through the court system.”
Toledo’s family did not attend the anniversary vigil.
José Gonzalez, an organizer with Little Village Community Council, said he wants the prosecutors “to make an example” out of Stillman.
“They should make an example out of these cops and not just let it slide,” he said.
Gonzalez said he was spurred to join the neighborhood group in the wake of Toledo’s death, wanting to work to make Little Village a better place.
“This is a place that, regardless of the negative connotations that is has, we still call it home,” Gonzalez said. “We want to keep calling it home for us and for all the kids that are still growing up here. … Out of all this darkness, comes something beautiful. People come together.”
Mara Castillo, another community organizer, said she thinks kids in the neighborhood need more attention and resources, like positive role models and mentors. She encouraged kids to find someone to look up to and follow in their footsteps.
“Don’t forget where you come from, talk about your culture, and speak up when you see violence,” said Castillo, a mother of three. “Defend your community.”
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