from the why-not-get-the-facts-*before*-making-claims-of-'armed-confrontations' dept
Another shooting of an unarmed person by police officers will likely see parts of Chicago burn over the next few days. But to get to where we are in the aftermath of this very disturbing shooting, we have to start at the beginning.
Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old Latino seventh grader, was shot dead in an alley by a Chicago police officer on March 29 following a foot chase. His mother had reported Adam missing. When officers came knocking on her door two days later, it was to identify his body. It wasn’t until after that that she was informed he was killed by police.
A Chicago police officer has been placed on administrative duty after fatally shooting a teenager in an incident labeled by one official as an “armed confrontation.”
The boy was Adam Toledo, who died by homicide from a gunshot wound to the chest, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. Toledo, identified by the medical examiner’s office as a 13-year-old white male, lived in the city’s largely Hispanic Little Village neighborhood on the West Side.
Here’s how the prosecutor framed it when handling the criminal charges against the other suspect in the alley that night:
During a bond hearing for 21-year-old Ruben Roman, who was with Adam the night of the shooting, Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy described the altercation in a proffer: “The officer tells [Toledo] to drop it as [Toledo] turns towards the officer. [Toledo] has a gun in his right hand.”
The officer who shot Toledo was wearing a body camera. And it wasn’t until the city released this footage that the Chicago PD and prosecutors admitted Toledo wasn’t armed. In fact, as can clearly be seen in this disturbing footage, he also had his hands in the air. The officer who shot spent 20 seconds in pursuit and gave Toledo less than a second to respond to his orders before pulling the trigger.
Now that the truth has come out, the backtracking has started, starting with the prosecutor’s office:
“An attorney who works in this office failed to fully inform himself before speaking in court…”
The footage shows an officer — responding to a report of fired shots — chasing Toledo down the alley. Surveillance footage from a nearby building showed Toledo tossing something on the ground by the fence seconds before he was shot. It appears Toledo had been carrying a gun but abandoned it. When he followed the officer’s instructions — “Show me your fucking hands! Drop it!” — and showed him his empty hands, he was killed.
The Chicago PD apparently doesn’t feel like talking about it. Most of the statements following the release of recordings by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability have come from the victim’s family or Mayor Lightfoot. And the Mayor still appears to be taking the PD’s side in this, even when all evidence shows this was not a justified killing.
[W]hile Lightfoot and other city officials expect tensions to flare after the video is released, she still called for deference to the police. “As the investigation in the police shooting . . . continues, I urge everyone: reserve judgment until the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, that’s COPA, has done its work,” she said.
The only entity to state publicly that the cop was 100% in the right is, of course, the local police union.
John Catanzara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said the officer was justified.
“He was 100% right,” Catanzara said. “The offender still turned with a gun in his hand. This occurred in eight-tenths of a second.”
First off, here’s John Catanzara’s pedigree:
Catanzara is one of the most frequently-disciplined officers in the history of the Chicago Police Department. He is believed to be the first police union president ever elected while stripped of his police powers.
Second, the “offender” did not “turn with a gun in his hand.” The body cam footage clearly shows his hands were empty. The discovery of the gun several feet away shows it wasn’t in his hands when he was shot.
That’s where this ends for now. A 13-year-old hanging out with the wrong person ran from the police. Then he did everything he was supposed to. He dropped the gun. He stopped. He turned around with his hands up. And it still wasn’t enough to keep him alive. Maybe if the officer had given it another half-second of scrutiny, this kid might still be alive. But the choice to shoot appeared to be a foregone conclusion. Alex Toledo never had a chance.