Body-camera footage shows that after running from police on March 29, 2021, Adam had followed an officer’s command to stop and show his hands, when the officer identified as Eric Stillman shot the child anyway. He was unarmed at that point although Adam was said to have dropped a gun he was holding before Stillman shot him.
Police described Adam as an “armed offender” in a preliminary statement about the shooting. Responding to a call about shots fired, officers alleged that they spotted two males near an alley. “One armed offender fled from the officers,” officials said in the statement. “A foot pursuit ensued which resulted in a confrontation in the alley of the 2300 block of S. Sawyer. The officer fired his weapon striking the offender in the chest. A weapon was recovered and the offender was pronounced deceased on scene.”
Police, who had no problem tweeting a photo of the gun recovered on the scene, didn’t inform Adam’s mother of his death for two days; and when they did, she was only able to confirm his identity through a picture, Elizabeth Toledo told the nonprofit news organization Block Club Chicago. She had reported her son missing days before his death, so when police contacted her asking for a photo after the shooting she said she thought it was related to her missing person’s report. “They told me I had to identify my son’s body and I couldn’t even see him,” the mother told Block Club Chicago. “They showed me a picture of my son Adam for just a couple of seconds.” She said her son was only a child. “If they are trained to shoot, why shoot to kill him?” the mother asked.
The mayor provided little explanation for the officer’s actions at a news conference on April 5 and instead focused on how the child may have accessed the gun. ”Let’s be clear,” Lightfoot said. “An adult put a gun in a child’s hand. A young, impressionable child, and one who should not have been provided with lethal force, a weapon that could, and did, irreparably change the course of his life.”
In another news conference before the release of body-camera footage on April 15, the mayor confirmed the accuracy of allegations Adam was holding a gun and had refused to drop it when he was shot. Prosecutors made the argument five days earlier at a bond hearing on April 10 for Ruben Roman, the other person police said they spotted on the scene before Adam was killed.
“Mayor, to be clear prosecutors said last week, told a judge in court, that Adam Toledo had a gun in his hand. I understand the video will be released in an hour and a half, but can you confirm that? Is that accurate?” a reporter asked the mayor during the news conference. She responded: “You’ll be able to see what the video shows. It’s not for me to confirm that. I’m very aware of what was said at the bond hearing for Mr. Roman. I believe that, as articulated, the comments of the State’s Attorney were correct, but it’s not for me to confirm or deny anything about this. There’s an ongoing investigation, and I want to honor that.”
Calls for the mayor to resign intensified over the weekend following her release of the body-camera video, a rumored cheating scandal, and a mystifying tweet from former Chicago Public Schools chief Arne Duncan. “Chicago, will see what tomorrow brings…” Duncan tweeted on Saturday.
More than a thousand people protested near the mayor’s home Friday night in Logan Square to call for justice in Adam’s death, Chicago Sun-Times journalist Ashlee Rezin Garcia tweeted. Ja’Mal Green, a civil rights advocate who ran for mayor of Chicago, said he is “100%” calling for Lightfoot to resign. “I don’t think that she’s ready to make this bold change, to take down this racist system that she’s given,” Green said. “She gave over 2 and a half-billion dollars to the police last year. For what? The highest crime rate in 30 years. They ain’t solving much crime. They traumatizing and brutalizing people, but they got 2 and a half-billion dollars. Show me an investment of $100 million in a Black or brown community.”
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