The city of Chicago on Thursday, April 15, 2021, released a video of the fatal police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo, as Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the boy’s family together called for people to “express themselves peacefully” following the “incredibly painful” release.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability – Chicago’s police oversight agency investigating the shooting – released the videos two days after Adam’s family was shown the footage and 17 days after the shooting itself, which took place in the early morning hours of March 29.
Body-camera footage of the shooting was made public, along with multiple third-party surveillance videos.
The body camera video that shows the shooting begins with about 1 minute and 45 seconds of the officer driving to the scene in the Little Village neighborhood before exiting his vehicle and running down an alley.
“Police, stop. Stop right f***ing now,” the officer can be heard yelling as Adam appears to pause near a fence at the end of the alley and turn toward the officer with his hands up.
The officer can be heard yelling, “Hey show me your f***ing hands, drop it” as the officer fires, just under 20 seconds after exiting his vehicle. Adam falls to the ground and the officer immediately calls for medical assistance, saying shots had been fired by police and requesting an ambulance.
The officer walks up to Adam, asking if he is alright and where he was shot.
“Stay with me. Stay with me,” the officer can be heard saying in the video.
Another officer arrives at the scene while the officer who fired the fatal shot begins chest compressions. Over the next several minutes, multiple officers are seen or heard continuing chest compressions as they wait for an ambulance to arrive.
About two-and-a-half minutes after the shooting, the body camera footage shows another officer shine a flashlight on a gun on the ground along the fence near where Adam was shot. But it was not immediately clear, given the speed and nature of the video, if he was holding it at the time of the shooting.
“I have seen those videos and let me just say that they are incredibly difficult to watch, particularly at the end,” Lightfoot said at a news conference ahead of the release.
“These videos and these moments are never easy to bear witness to, regardless of the circumstances,” Lightfoot continued. “And what I’ve learned is that you need to brace yourself beforehand. Let yourself feel the pain and anguish and shock of these traumatic events to avoid becoming numb as you watch.”
Lightfoot said she saw “no evidence whatsoever” that Adam fired any shots at police as she renewed calls for federal action on gun laws as well as a review of the Chicago Police Department’s policy on foot pursuits.
Lightfoot and Adam’s family said in a joint statement Thursday morning ahead of the release that the city’s corporation counsel and the family’s attorneys met the day before and had agreed that “all material should be released, including a slowed-down compilation of the events” leading up to the boy’s death.
“We acknowledge that the release of this video is the first step in the process toward the healing of the family, the community and our city,” Lightfoot and the Toledo family’s legal team said. “We understand that the release of this video will be incredibly painful and elicit an emotional response to all who view it, and we ask that people express themselves peacefully.”
“COPA’s investigation is ongoing as we seek to determine the full facts in this case. To that end, we call for full cooperation with COPA. We remain committed to working together toward reform,” the statement continued. “We ask that you continue to respect the Toledo family’s privacy during this incredibly painful and difficult time.”
Required by law to publicly release body camera footage no more than 60 days after a police shooting, COPA announced Wednesday that it would release the materials Thursday in the interest of transparency.
The shooting took place on March 29, according to police, who said officers responded to an alert of shots fired at 2:37 a.m. in the 2300 block of South Sawyer and saw two males in a nearby alley.
Both fled, according to police, who said the officers chased them and one opened fire, shooting Adam in the chest. He was pronounced dead at the scene and a weapon was recovered, officials said.
In a bond hearing for the 21-year-old man, facing multiple charges after authorities said he was with Adam at the time of the shooting, a prosecutor with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office described the events of the video, saying Adam was holding a gun in his hand.
But on Thursday, a spokeswoman for the State’s Attorney’s office said that the attorney “failed to fully inform himself before speaking in court,” adding, “errors like that cannot happen and this has been addressed with the individual involved.” The spokeswoman then pointed to the video of the shooting, which she said: “speaks for itself.”
Immediately after the shooting, COPA initially said it would not publicly release body camera video of the shooting because of state law governing cases involving a juvenile, but reversed course under public pressure and said it would release the “troubling footage” once Adam’s family was able to see it first.
COPA noted Wednesday that it is “committed to completing a full, thorough and objective investigation of the entire incident which includes not only the officer’s use of deadly force but also the actions of other involved officers leading up to and following the deadly shooting to determine whether each officers’ actions complied with Department policy directives and training.”
COPA is leading the investigation into the shooting and the officers involved have been placed on administrative duties for 30 days in accordance with CPD policy.