The newly released video of a Chicago police officer fatally shooting a 13-year-old is vital evidence as prosecutors examine a case against the officer and face both the emotions surrounding the terrifying footage and legal precedents, that make it difficult to bring charges against law enforcement.
The video of last month’s encounter was released on Thursday and provoked one Outpouring of sadness and indignation. It shows Officer Eric Stillman shooting Adam Toledo less than a second after the boy dropped a gun, turned to Stillman, and started raising his hands.
Some viewers have requested that Stillman be charged or fired. To others, the video shows how difficult such decisions can be for prosecutors and police officers, with one officer making a quick decision on which to shoot chasing a suspect down a dark alley while responding to a report of gunfire.
Whether Stillman will be charged depends on the Cook County Attorney’s Office, which receives the report from the Civilian Office of Police Accountability after the independent agency completes its investigation.
Several legal experts said Friday that they do not believe Stillman could be charged under criteria set in a landmark 1989 Supreme Court ruling on the use of force by the police, the jury decides guilt or innocence.
The assassination of Toledo, who was Latino, by Stillman, who is white, adds to the already heightened tension over policing in Chicago and elsewhere in the United States, particularly in black and Latin American communities. The videos and other investigative materials were released against the backdrop of the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis by doing George Floyd dies and the recently killed by police another black man Down Wright, in one of the suburbs of this city.
Around a thousand people gathered in a park in northwest Chicago on Friday evening. Some held signs saying “Stop killing children” and “CPD cannot be regrouped”. A marching band played music as the crowd sang “No Justice, No Peace”.
Dulce Rodriguez, 34, was holding a sign that read “We are Adam Toledo”. Their 5-year-old daughter, Vida, waved a large Mexican flag.
“That could have been anyone’s child,” said Rodriquez, who had lost a cousin to gun violence last June. She said the police are triggering gun violence in underserved areas such as where she lives.
“We’ll do better when they’re not there,” she said.
Although Mayor Lori Lightfoot pleaded with the public to keep the peace and allow the Police Board of Examiners to complete its investigation, some had already made up their minds what had happened to Toledo, whose mother described him as a curious and goofy seventh grader who loved animals. Ride a bike and junk food.
When Rep. Edgar Gonzalez, who lives four blocks from Toledo’s death, spoke on the floor of Illinois House Friday, describing the killing as “murder” and expressing frustration with what he described as an all-too-familiar pattern of police abuse .
“So if you put your hands up they’ll shoot. If you put your hands down, they’ll shoot. If you walk, run, hide, sleep, you do exactly what they say, they are still shooting, ”said Gonzalez. “So I ask the members of this chamber what should we do?”
When asked about the video on Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki called it “chilling” and recalled that “law enforcement across the country too often uses unnecessary force, resulting in the deaths of black and brown Americans.” She said she didn’t know if President Joe Biden saw it.
Stillman responded with other officers to reports of shots fired at around 3 a.m. on March 29 in Little Village, a predominantly Hispanic working-class neighborhood in the southwest of the city. Nineteen seconds passed before Stillman got out of his patrol car and shot Toledo. His nervous bodycam recordings at night show him chasing Toledo through an alley on foot for a few seconds and saying “Police! Stop! Now stop (expletively)! “
As the teenager slows down, Stillman yells, “Hands! Hands! Show me your (expletive) hands! “
Toledo then turns to the camera and Stillman yells “Drop it!” and in the middle of the repetition of this command he opens fire and Toledo falls. Stillman approaches the wounded boy and gets an ambulance. He is heard begging Toledo to “stay awake” and when other officers arrive, one officer says he cannot feel a heartbeat and begins giving CPR.
Other videos released Thursday show that Toledo had a gun in his right hand just before he was shot, and Stillman’s bodycam footage shows him lighting a gun on the ground near Toledo after he shot him.
In its 1989 ruling, the Supreme Court said that the use of force by officials might be legal if they genuinely believe their lives are in danger at the moment – although with hindsight it becomes clear that they are, in fact, not in danger.
The legality of a fatal shootout, the Supreme Court said, “must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the ground, rather than the 20/20 vision of hindsight.” Similar wording is found in Illinois law and the Chicago Police Department guidelines on the use of force.
Stillman knew Toledo had a gun within a second or two of his shooting, and the officer knew shots had been fired in the area minutes earlier, said Phil Turner, a former Chicago federal attorney.
“I don’t think there is any question that any other sensible officer would have acted the same as the officer,” said Turner. “It was a split second decision. I don’t think the officer will be charged. “
Stillman’s attorney Tim Grace said the officer “faced a life-threatening and fatal situation of violence” and that “all previous attempts to de-escalate and comply with all of the officer’s legal orders have failed”.
But Adeena Weiss-Ortiz, an attorney for Toledo’s family, told reporters it made no difference whether Toledo had a gun in hand before he turned to the officer.
“If he had a gun, he threw it away,” she said. “The officer said, ‘Show me your hands. ‘He gave in. He turned around. “
Stillman, who served with the Marines in Afghanistan and is a sergeant in the Selected Marine Corps Reserve, joined the Police Department in 2015. This emerges from an incident report of the shooting.
During his six years with the department, Stillman was named in at least four reports of violence, according to the Invisible Institute, a Chicago-based group tracking down police misconduct. In each report, the subjects were listed as black men in their late 20s or older. Reports include a takedown / emergency handcuff in 2017, as well as wristwatches, takedowns / emergency handcuffs, and open hand strikes in 2018 and 2019.
Alison Flowers, who leads the institute’s research, called the number of reports “pertinent” and added, “We usually see this level of activity over the course of a long career, not just six years.”
In addition to releasing Stillman’s bodycam footage, the review board released footage from other bodycams, four third-party videos, two audio recordings of 911 calls, and six audio recordings of ShotSpotter, the technology that made police respond to the sound of gunfire Tomorrow.
Toledo and a 21 year old male fled on foot when confronted by police. The man, Ruben Roman, was arrested on charges of offense for resisting arrest but was later charged with crime including the reckless discharge of a firearm, the illegal use of a weapon by a criminal, and the endangerment of children. He was ordered for a $ 150,000 bond.
Immediately after the shooting, the members of the community asked the review board to publish bodycam recordings of it. The Chicago Police Department has a long history of brutality and racism that has fueled suspicion among the city’s many black and Latin American residents. And the city has suppressed fucking police videos in the past, including hers Efforts to prevent publication of footage of the 2014 murder of Laquan McDonald by a white officer who was eventually convicted of murder.