13-year-old Adam Toledo put his hands up. Chicago police killed him anyway
The city of Chicago on Thursday released footage of last month's police killing of teenager Adam Toledo, prompting renewed calls for accountability and justice on behalf of the slain child. Video taken from the body camera worn by Eric Stillman, the CPD officer who shot Toledo, shows the 13-year-old with his empty hands in the air just a moment before he is hit in the chest by a single gunshot. He was pronounced dead on the scene shortly thereafter.
You can view the footage here. Warning, it is extremely graphic.
Chicago police claim the video shows Toledo holding a gun during a brief foot chase with officer in the seconds leading up to the fatal shot. Authorities claim Toledo tossed the firearm behind a fence in the moments before complying with the officer's call to raise his empty hands. During a press conference accompanying the released footage Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said that there was "no evidence" Toledo had actually fired the weapon before police shot him.
Attorney Adeena Weiss Ortiz, who represents Toledo's family, agreed. "Those videos speak for themselves," Weiss Ortiz said Thursday. "Adam, for the last second of his life, did not have a gun."
Weiss Ortiz conceded that she was not "100%" certain Toledo wasn't carrying a gun in the moments leading up to his death, but even if he had, the teen should still be alive today.
"If he had a gun, he tossed it," she during a press conference. "The officer said, ‘Show me your hands,’ [and Toledo] complied." She also noted that the officer "is trained to not shoot somebody unarmed. He is trained to look, he is trained not to panic."
Across Chicago, protesters massed to mourn Toledo and call for justice in the wake of his killing. "When I seen the video today, something inside of me died," Kristian Armendariz, a member of the community council for Little Village, the neighborhood where Toledo lived, told ABC7. "I couldn't even bear to watch the whole video by myself. I felt like my childhood just died."
In her initial press conference after the shooting, which occurred March 29, Lightfoot pledged to find out who was responsible for "putting a gun into [Toledo's] hands," while the alderman for the neighborhood implied that Toledo was affiliated with a gang. As The TRiiBE notes, there has been no proof that Toledo was a member of a gang. The city also did not inform Toledo's family of his death for two days, and let the narrative that Toledo was armed when he was killed stand until the footage was released Thursday.
"Adam Toledo was loved," the Chicago Teacher's Union said in a statement released after his death. "He was one of ours, and we are keeping his memory and his Gary Elementary School family in our hearts, along with his mother, family and the people of Little Village. We wish them healing and comfort right now. Love your children. Love your communities. Love yourselves."
Despite her seeming acceptance that police shot and killed an unarmed child, Lightfoot nevertheless insisted Chicago residents "reserve judgment" over the shooting until the local authorities can complete their investigation. Meanwhile, the community is left to pick up the pieces from this latest act of police brutality: The TRiiBE reported that Chicago Public Schools is offering grief support, as Toledo was a 7th grader at a CPS school. But per The TRiiBE, the school system "only has four crisis coordinators for the 514 schools in the district."