Adam Toledo: Everything we know about the police killing of a 13-year-old boy in Chicagoavril 5, 2021
The shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo by a police officer has shaken the city of Chicago, resulting in calls from the public and Mayor Lori Lightfoot for police reform and greater accountability for law enforcement.
Toledo was shot on 29 March during what Chicago police called an “armed confrontation.”
The boy was killed after he was chased into an alley by police officers during a chase.
Here’s everything we know so far.
On 29 March, police received a call of “shots fired” in Little Village just after 2am.
According to the Chicago police report detailing the incident, two people in an ally fled from officers when they arrived on scene. The officers pursued the individuals into the alley.
The police report claims the chase ended in a “confrontation” during which an officer shot Toledo in the chest, killing him.
Police said a weapon was later found at the scene.
Tom Ahern, a Chicago police spokesman, called the incident an “armed confrontation” in a tweet. He also shared a photo of the gun police found at the scene and said the other individual involved in the confrontation had been taken into custody.
According to Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability, a civilian police watchdog agency, the confrontation was captured on body camera footage, but the video cannot be released without a court order because Toledo was a juvenile.
The agency said the footage that can be released will be released within 60 days of the shooting, which is in “accordance with the City’s Video Release Policy.”
The public response to the shooting
Elizabeth Toledo, Adam Toledo’s mother, said the boy wanted to be a police officer when he became an adult, and started a GoFundMe page to cover the expenses relating to the boys death.
“Adam had many dreams that he will never get to live out,” the page says. “Ironically one of his dreams was to become a police officer.”
She said her son enjoyed playing with Lego and telling jokes.
“He was a child that brightened up the room when he would walk in,” she wrote. “It weighs heavy on our hearts to be planning our last goodbyes instead of watching him grow up and live out those dreams.”
According to police, gangs in the area have called for members to shoot at unmarked police cars in retaliation for the shooting. Ms Toledo denounced the alleged calls for violence.
“No one has anything to gain by inciting violence,” Ms Toledo said Sunday in a statement. “Adam was a sweet and loving boy. He would not want anyone else to be injured or die in his name.”
She said she hoped no gang members were “foolish enough to do something.”
A small protest was organised Friday following the announcement that Toledo was killed.
About 50 people gathered in Palmer Square Park and marched to intersections where they stopped to rally. Demonstrators carried signs that read “abolish the police” and “Justice for Adam.”
“No country is right for a child to die at the hands of our law enforcement,” Enrique Enriquez, a member of the Little Village Community Council who helped organize an earlier rally in Little Village and who knows the Toledo family, told Book Club Chicago. “We are not going to allow any of this to continue [in Little Village].”
He called for the officer who shot Toledo to be fired.
“The officer must lose his badge and the camera [footage] has to come out within 48 hours — just like it took them 48 hours to say [Toledo] was gone,” he said. “That child got the right like every other child to live his life and now we cannot give that to him. But what we can give him is justice.”
Critics of the police department noted that it waited 48 hours before releasing a statement about the boy’s death. Ms Toledo filed a missing person’s report for her son days before the shooting.
Police response to the shooting
The office involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative duty pending an investigation into the incident.
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown issued a statement following the shooting.
Mr Brown called an armed confrontation with a juvenile his “greatest fear” in his statement.
“Unfortunately, this fear became a reality earlier this week,” Mr Brown said. “Any loss of life is tragic, especially when it involves the youth.”
He offered his sympathies to Toledo’s family and said his department would “fully support” COPA’s investigation into the shooting. He called for the release of all body camera footage associated with the incident.
“The split-second decision to use deadly force is extremely difficult for any officer and is always a heavy burden to bear for officers involved in fatal shooting incidents,” Mr Brown said.
On Thursday, the Chicago Police Department put out an “officer safety alert” after its Narcotics Division learned that gangs in the city had allegedly called on members to shoot at unmarked police cars in retaliation for Toledo’s shooting.
The Fraternal Order of Police union president representing the Chicago Police Department, John Catanzara, issued a statement claiming the shooting was justified.
“The officer was absolutely shaken by the circumstances of which happened that night because a life was taken,” Mr Catanzara said. “But it was justified. The offender was fleeing from the police with a weapon. It’s irregardless that he was 13 years old.”
Police have yet to say which of the two males was holding the gun when Toledo was shot.
Call for police reform
Ms Lightfoot has called for police reforms in the wake of Toledo’s shooting.
She has called for police to stop chasing suspects on foot, though there has been no further detail on how that policy would – or could – work.
Ms Lightfoot called for a “thorough, expeditious” investigation into the shooting, and said that police foot chases were among the most dangerous activities for both police officers and suspects in the city.
“We cannot and will not push the foot pursuit reform off for another day,” Ms Lightfoot said during a press conference on Monday. “No longer can we afford to put off to tomorrow what we can address today because lives are truly at stake.”
The city has had a troubled history with its police and use of force issues.
A study by researchers with Columbia University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California-Irvine, published in the journal Science in February found that white officers in Chicago more likely to use force than non-white officers.
In 2014, public outcry exploded after a dashcam video of police emerged showing officers shooting Laquan McDonald 14 times before he collapsed. Mr McDonald was walking away from police when he was shot.
The city has seen its largest surge of violence since 2017, with 131 homicides on record during the first quarter of 2021.