(CHICAGO) — Chicago’s police review board released body camera video on Thursday of a police officer’s fatal shooting of a 13-year-old boy late last month.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, an independent board that investigates Chicago police shootings, released the footage of the March 29 fatal shooting of Adam Toledo after allowing the boy’s family to view it Tuesday.
In the jumpy body camera video, an officer chases the teen on foot down an alley for several seconds and yells “Police! Stop! Stop right (expletive) now!” As the teen slows down, the officer yells “Hands! Hands! Show me your [expletive] hands!”
Toledo then turns toward the camera, the officer yells “Drop it!” Midway between repeating that command, he opens fire and the teen drops to the ground. While approaching the wounded Toledo, the officer radios in for an ambulance. He can be heard imploring the boy to “stay awake,” and as other officers arrive, the officer who apparently fired the shot says he can’t feel a heartbeat and begins administering CPR.
It wasn’t immediately clear from the body camera footage whether Toledo was holding anything when he turned around. He appeared to be holding his hands up, or trying to, when the gun was fired. Police have alleged Toledo had a handgun on him and that investigators recovered it from the scene.
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Shortly before the board posted the video and other investigation materials on its website, Mayor Lori Lightfoot urged the public to remain peaceful and reserve judgment until the board can complete its investigation.
Choking up at times during a news conference, Lightfoot decried the city’s long history of police violence and misconduct, especially in Black and brown communities, and said too many young people are left vulnerable to “systemic failures that we simply must fix.”
“We live in a city that is traumatized by a long history of police violence and misconduct,” the mayor said. “So while we don’t have enough information to be the judge and jury of this particular situation, it is certainly understandable why so many of our residents are feeling that all too familiar surge of outrage and pain. It is even clearer that trust between our community and law enforcement is far from healed and remains badly broken.”
Lightfoot described watching the footage as “excruciating.”
“As a mom, this is not something you want children to see,” said the mayor. She declined to say if the footage showed whether the teen was holding a gun when he was shot, but she called a prosecutor’s assertion at a recent hearing that Toledo had a gun when he was shot ”correct.”
In addition to posting the officer’s body camera footage of the shooting, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or COPA, released other investigation materials, including video captured by a third party, arrest reports and audio recordings of shots being fired in the area that led police to respond. The board didn’t say what the video shows or give any other information about the investigation.
The release comes in the wake of the traffic-stop shooting of Daunte Wright by an officer in a Minneapolis suburb that has sparked protests as the broader Minneapolis area nervously awaits the outcome of the trial of Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd.
In Chicago, police said officers responded to an area of the predominantly Latino and Black neighborhood Little Village on the city’s West Side before dawn on the morning of the shooting after a police technology detected gun shots there. The teen, who was Latino, and a 21-year-old man fled on foot when confronted by police, and an officer shot the teen once in the chest following a foot chase during what the department described as an armed confrontation.
The 21-year-old man was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest.
The review board initially said it couldn’t release the video because it involved the shooting of a minor, but it changed course after the mayor and police superintendent called for the video’s release.
“COPA’s core values of integrity and transparency are essential to building public trust, particularly in incidents related to an officer involved shooting, and we are unwavering in our commitment to uphold these values,” the board said in its statement Wednesday.
Footage of the Toledo shooting had been widely anticipated in the city, where the release of some previous police shooting videos sparked major protests. Before the video’s release, some businesses in downtown Chicago’s “Magnificent Mile” shopping district boarded up their windows. Lightfoot said the city has been preparing for months for a verdict in the Chauvin trial and that it had activated a “neighborhood protection plan.”
“It happens now that these circumstances are sitting next to each other,” she said.
The Toledo family, meanwhile, issued a statement urging people to “remain peaceful.”
“We have heard reports in the media that more protests are planned today, and while we have no direct knowledge of such events, we pray that for the sake of our city, people remain peaceful to honor Adam’s memory and work constructively to promote reform,” said the family, which planned to hold a news conference later Thursday.
Before the video’s release, Lightfoot and attorneys for the family and city said in a joint statement that they agreed that in addition to the release of the video, all investigation materials should be made public, including a slowed-down compilation of what happened that morning.
“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,” the joint statement read. “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.”
The Chicago Police Department has a long history of brutality and racism that has fomented mistrust among the city’s many Black and Hispanic residents. Adding to that mistrust is the city’s history of suppressing damning police videos.
The city fought for months to keep the public from seeing the 2014 video of a white officer shooting Black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times, killing him. The officer was eventually convicted of murder. And the city tried to stop a TV news station from broadcasting video of a botched 2019 police raid in which an innocent, naked, Black woman wasn’t allowed to put on clothes until after she was handcuffed.