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Downtown Chicago is bracing for unrest after body camera footage released April 15 showed 13-year-old Adam Toledo with his hands up before a Chicago Police Department (CPD) officer fatally shot him March 29.
The footage from the body camera of the officer who shot Adam was released by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), an agency that investigates police misconduct allegations.
The shooting occurred on the 2300 block of South Sawyer Avenue in the Little Village neighborhood March 29, according to CPD.
The officer was reportedly responding to calls from concerned citizens who had heard multiple shots fired. The calls corresponded with shots picked up by the shotspotter system, a series of sensitive microphones across the city that detect when firearms go off.
The footage shows the officer following Adam on foot down a dark alleyway as the officer yells, “Stop, stop right f—— now,” at Adam after turning on a strobing flashlight. The officer then yells, “Show me your f—— hands, drop it.”
Adam then stops and raises his hands, which look to be empty, before the officer shoots him in the chest. The officer calls for an ambulance and begins to render aid.
“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,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a press release April 15. “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.”
Prior to the public release of the video, Lightfoot said she didn’t want to get into the specifics of the incident as the COPA investigation is ongoing, but added it didn’t appear Adam shot at police.
“I’ve seen no evidence whatsoever that Adam Toledo shot at the police,” Lightfoot said in a press conference April 15.
Claims that Adam had a gun in his right hand when he turned and faced the officer were later called inaccurate, WGN reported.
During a bond court hearing for 21-year-old Ruben Roman, who was allegedly with Adam at the time of the shooting, an attorney for the state’s attorney’s office claimed Adam had a gun in his right hand when he turned and faced the officer, according to WGN.
A spokesperson for Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx told The Phoenix the attorney “failed to fully inform himself before speaking in court.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois called for a “complete and transparent” investigation into Adam’s death following the release of the video.
“The people of Chicago deserve answers about the events surrounding this tragic interaction,” Colleen Connell, executive director of ACLU Illinois said in a statement. “These answers must come through complete disclosure and public reporting, and not through careful assertions crafted by police and prosecutors.”
An attorney for the Toledo family thanked the Latino community and Latino leaders for their peaceful demonstrations in the days since Adam’s death in a press conference April 15.
“We do not want to compound this tragedy by inflaming emotions or inciting violence,” the attorney, Adeena Weiss Ortiz, said. “It is especially important to keep the peace.”
The video comes in the wake of several days of demonstrations in Brooklyn Center, Minn. after a white police officer killed Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old unarmed Black man, the Associated Press reported.
Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) said the city is “allocating public safety resources” across communities in a tweet hours after the video was released.
Lightfoot said the city has been communicating with businesses regarding protest readiness in light of the ongoing Derek Chauvin trial, the officer who killed George Floyd in Minneapolis last May. The release of the videos of Adam’s death just so happened to coincide with these preparations, Lightfoot said.
“We want to prepare people for the release of these videos, but also to assure folks that we are ready and prepared in the event that something happens,” Lightfoot said in the press conference ahead of the video’s release.
Loyola’s Campus Safety is “monitoring the situation closely,” according to university spokesperson Anna Shymanski Zach. Campus Safety didn’t immediately respond to questions regarding specific safety measures.
Demonstrators took to Chicago’s streets last summer to protest after Floyd’s death. Following the demonstrations, Chicago lawmakers promised police reform. Lightfoot announced she planned to work with Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker to create a licensing system for police officers, though the legislation has yet to be seen.