A teenager in Chicago was shot and killed by police, but plenty of questions remain about how it happened and calls for answers and accountability grow louder by the day.
Those calls include Chicago’s mayor, who has demanded reform. For now, the world waits for the release of the officer’s body camera footage to provide insight into the shooting.
On March 29, Chicago police responded to the 2400 block of S. Sawyer Ave. after a shots fired call around 2:30 a.m., according to the Civilian Office of Police Accountability. Officers found two people, who ran and police gave chase. One of the people was armed.
One man was caught and remains in police custody.
The other person — 13-year-old Adam Toledo — was shot and killed by an officer who gave chase, according to the office. The unnamed officer fired one shot, killing the teen.
Police body camera captured footage of the shooting.
Chicago police Superintendent David Brown said an armed confrontation between one of his officers and a juvenile was his greatest fear.
“That fear became a reality on March 29, 2021, with the death of Adam Toledo,” Brown said at an April 5 press conference.
Toledo had no identification and the other suspect gave a false name, which is why it took time to identify Toledo, Brown said. Toledo was fingerprinted three times and there were no matches. Officers matched Toledo to a closed missing person’s report as he recently returned home.
Toledo returned home two days before the shooting, Brown said.
His mother said her son left again on March 27 and she did not make a missing person’s report the second time he left home, Brown said.
The officer involved in the shooting was placed on administrative duties for 30 days, which is standard protocol, Brown said. The Civilian Office of Police Accountability will conduct its review and make a recommendation.
If they recommend a suspension of a year or longer or termination, it will be up to Brown to move forward with that process.
When the Civilian Office of Police Accountability announced the shooting, they said they would not release the body camera footage because of the victim's age. A day later, the agency reversed course and said they would release the video.
Police footage will be made available as soon as possible, but no exact date was given. The law requires its release within 60 days.
The group called the footage “troubling.”
The agency is working with the Toledo family to arrange so they can see the video before its released to the public.
Chicago’s shooting comes at the same time Minnesota is holding a high-profile trial of Derek Chauvin in connection to the death of George Floyd in 2020. Chauvin was a police officer who restrained Floyd during an arrest. The officer put his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes as the suspect was pinned to the ground.
Chauvin’s knee remained on Floyd for more than 5 minutes even as Floyd was unconscious.
Floyd’s death sparked protests across the nation and calls for police reforms, especially in interacting with minority groups.
Some Chicago residents have taken to the street to demand answers in Toledo’s shooting.
The Toledo family called for peace, and Brown thanked them for their efforts. He asked for people not to make the situation worse by rushing to judgment.
“Ms. Toledo and her family need our love and our support in this moment, not our withering judgment,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at the press conference.
As she spoke, Lightfoot also called for reform on how police chase suspects on foot and called for a complete investigation into Toledo’s death.
“The family and the public needs a full accounting,” she said.
WHO WAS ADAM TOLEDO?
Toledo’s family created a GoFundMe page to raise money for his memorial. It had raised more than $50,000 as of April 6.
The family said that on March 29, “another angel gained his wings way too soon.”
They described Toledo as a son, brother, uncle, nephew, friend and a child with loving family and friends. Toledo loved to play with Legos and to make others laugh.
“He was a child that brightened up the room when he would walk in,” the family wrote.
Relatives say their heart is heavy as they plan his funeral instead of watching him grow up. Toledo’s future plans were a bit ironic given how his life ended.
“One of his dreams was to become a police officer,” the family wrote.