CHICAGO — It happened in seconds: the pause in a dark alley, the officer’s shot fired, the 13-year-old crumpling to the ground.
Video of Adam Toledo’s fatal shooting by police was released to the public Thursday, more than two weeks after the teen’s killing left the neighborhood in anguish and Chicago on edge.
Authorities released extensive video from body-worn cameras, surveillance footage, gunfire detection data and 911 recordings. Taken altogether, the video appears to show Toledo with a gun that he discards as he turns toward the officer with his empty hands raised.
WARNING: This video shows the moments before and after the fatal shooting.
And the city’s focus inevitably turned toward the crucial split second showing the shooting itself — the grainy, graphic end to the life of the youngest person fatally shot by Chicago police in years.
The video from the body-worn camera of the officer who fired the shot captures the instant Toledo was struck, moments after the officer begins chasing the teen down the alley. The materials were published on the website of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which is now charged with investigating.
In that body camera video of the shooting officer — identified in police reports provided by COPA as Ogden District tactical unit Officer Eric Stillman — he can be seen pulling up in the alley in his police vehicle, getting out and running south.
The officer, Stillman, can be heard to shout, “show me your (expletive) hands!” followed by “drop it!” with a flickering flashlight on Toledo.
On a frame-by-frame viewing, a pistol-shaped object appears to be visible in Toledo’s right hand behind his back as he pauses near an opening in a fence and turns his head toward the officer.
Surveillance footage captured the same moment from across a nearby parking lot. It shows the teen stopping with his right arm behind the fence, making an underhanded throwing motion, just before he turns back toward the officer and slumps to the ground.
On Stillman’s body-worn camera, Toledo’s hands appear to be empty at the moment the officer shoots him.
Later in the video, an officer shines a flashlight onto a pistol behind the fence where Toledo had been standing.
“Shots fired! Shots fired! Get an ambulance over here now!” Stillman can be heard to say.
“Look at me. Look at me. You all right? … Where are you shot?” Stillman says before turning Toledo over onto his back. Toledo is motionless, with blood on his sweatshirt and face. Officers called for an ambulance and a medical kit.
With a police radio crackling in the background, Stillman can be seen repeatedly attempting chest compressions on Toledo before another officer on the scene takes over.
A few other officers also crowded around the teen.
“Come on, big guy,” one officer can be heard to say.
“This is an old one, it’s too sticky, it’s too sticky,” said an officer who tried to apply a bandage. “Give me another chest seal.”
Toledo was pronounced dead at the scene.
At a news conference Thursday, an attorney for the Toledo family stressed that the teen did not have a gun at the exact moment he was shot, though they could not tell with “100 percent certainty” whether he was armed in the seconds beforehand, even viewing the video in slow motion. It might take a forensic analysis, the attorney, Adeena Weiss Ortiz, said.
But that should be irrelevant, Weiss Ortiz said, because the footage shows Toledo complied with the officer’s orders.
“If he had a gun, he tossed it. … The officer said, ‘show me your hands,’ (and Toledo) complied,” she said. “(The officer) is trained to not shoot somebody unarmed. He is trained to look, he is trained not to panic.”
Chicago police on Thursday showed a compilation of the video footage to reporters ahead of its public release, though they declined to answer any questions about the shooting at the briefing. The footage also included a slowed-down version of the crucial moments of the shooting, which Brendan Deenihan, the Chicago Police Department’s chief of detectives, used to stress the split-second nature of the shooting.
A spokesman for COPA, which publicly released the unedited footage, criticized the disclosure of the slowed-down version and said COPA intentionally disclosed only raw footage, in line with their goal to “release video and other materials in an objective and transparent manner.”
Since becoming a Chicago cop in August 2015, Stillman, 34, has been named in three complaints but has never been disciplined, according to the Invisible Institute, an organization that advocates for police accountability.
Stillman’s attorney, Tim Grace, said it was clear Toledo was armed and the officer had no option but to use deadly force.
“The officer had no place to take cover or concealment, the gun was being (orientated) in his direction and he was left with no other option,” Grace wrote in an emailed statement.
At a news conference Thursday before the footage was released, Mayor Lori Lightfoot grew emotional as she talked about the city’s ongoing struggles with gun violence, saying, “We can’t have that be what young people experience in our city.”
“Simply put, we failed Adam,” she said at the news conference.
In a separate statement, the mayor and lawyers for Toledo’s family also renewed a call for calm Thursday in the hours before the images were made public.
“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 said. “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 city’s top lawyer, Celia Meza, met with Toledo family attorneys Tuesday, according to the statement, and they agreed “that all material should be released, including a slowed-down compilation of the events of March 29 that resulted in the tragic death of 13-year-old Adam Toledo.”
The video was shown to the Toledo family Tuesday night by COPA officials, who are tasked with investigating police shootings in the city. Public release of the material is required by city policy, but officials delayed the release at the request of the family.
The investigation into whether the officer followed department use of force rules is in its early stages, officials said this week.
“COPA is committed to completing a full, thorough and objective investigation of the entire incident which includes not only the officer’s use of deadly force but also the actions of other involved officers leading up to and following the deadly shooting to determine whether each officers’ actions complied with (Police) Department policy directives and training” a COPA statement read.
As a matter of routine, COPA refers its police shooting investigations to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office for a review of whether criminal charges could be warranted. COPA also notifies federal authorities about police shooting cases so they can decide whether the civil rights of the person shot by the officer were violated.
Also released Thursday was footage of the arrest of 21-year-old Ruben Roman, identified by Cook County prosecutors as the man who fired the shots that attracted police to the area in the moments before Toledo was shot.
Prosecutors have said Toledo was within arm’s length of Roman as those shots were fired, and the two fled together. Roman has been charged with child endangerment, gun possession and reckless discharge, all felonies.
The gun was recovered near where Toledo was shot, and investigators had matched it with cartridge casings found at the scene where Roman had been firing, authorities have said. It was not immediately clear how it was apparently passed between them.
One body camera video released by COPA shows two officers running after Roman, and one tackling him. Red and black gloves are seen on the pavement next to Roman, who is face down.
“Listen!” one officer can be heard to shout. “Put your hands behind your back! Put your hands behind your back!”
Roman appears to try to get up. “No! No, dude!” the officer says. “Hold on!
Another body camera also showed Roman in custody.
“Where you live?” an officer asks.
“I live in Maywood,” Roman said before an officer asks why he’s in Little Village. “‘Cause I was just passing by. I was just on my way home.”
Later he was asked if he ran from police. “Never,” Roman replies. “I don’t know what’s going on. I got tackled.”
After Toledo was shot, police were not able to identify him immediately because he was not carrying a cellphone or identification, officials have said.
When police questioned Roman the night of the shooting, he at first gave a false name for Toledo, then a few hours later denied knowing who he was with, authorities said.
Detectives then searched missing persons reports from the neighborhood to see if any matched Toledo’s description. They found one and contacted the family March 31. Toledo was identified that day by his family, and the next day the Cook County medical examiner’s office released his name and age.
News that such a young person had been fatally shot by police touched off immediate tension and protests in Little Village, with calls for the release of the footage, arrest of the officer and massive reforms to policing — including the now common call for the department to be stripped of funding all together.
But there were also more quiet, somber vigils for Toledo, who was remembered as a cherished part of his extended family.
Meanwhile, Chicago was left to absorb the images of Toledo’s shooting during an already tense week when national issues related to policing and race were already at the forefront. The trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin for the killing of George Floyd was in its final stages, and another officer in a Minneapolis-area community, Brooklyn Center, was charged with second-degree manslaughter for this week’s fatal shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop.
Chicago police have been making preparations in case of any civil unrest resulting from the video release, officials said. Sources said several specialized Chicago police units were preparing this week for possible major protests or disturbances.