Disturbing bodycam footage of a 13-year-old boy being shot dead by police in Chicago shows the youth appearing to drop a handgun and raising his hands less than a second before an officer kills him.
A still frame taken from Officer Eric Stillman’s body camera footage shows that Adam Toledo was not holding anything and had his hands up when Officer Stillman shot him once in the chest at about 3am on March 29.
Police, who were responding to reports of shots fired in the area, say the boy had a handgun on him before the shooting.
Officer Stillman’s footage shows him shining a light on a handgun on the ground near Adam after he shot him.
The release of the footage and other investigation materials comes at a sensitive time, with the ongoing trial in Minneapolis of former Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd and the recent police killing of another black man, Daunte Wright, in one of that city’s suburbs.
Before the Civilian Office of Police Accountability posted the material on its website, Mayor Lori Lightfoot called on the public to keep the peace, while some businesses boarded up their windows in the expectation that there could be unrest.
HAPPENING NOW: Mayor Lightfoot joins community leaders for a press conference. https://t.co/v35urEhphF— Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) April 15, 2021
Small groups of protesters gathered at a police station and marched on Thursday night, but there were few signs of widespread demonstrations in the city.
“We live in a city that is traumatised by a long history of police violence and misconduct,” Ms Lightfoot 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.”
Nineteen seconds elapsed from when Officer Stillman got out of his squad car to when he shot Adam.
The 34-year-old white officer’s bodycam footage shows him chasing Adam Toledo on foot down an alley for several seconds. As the boy slows down, Officer Stillman calls for Adam to show his hands.
Adam then turns toward the camera, Officer Stillman says: “Drop it!” Midway between repeating that command, he opens fire and the teenager falls down.
While approaching the wounded boy, Officer Stillman radios in for an ambulance. He can be heard imploring Adam to “stay awake”, and as other officers arrive, an officer says he cannot feel a heartbeat and begins administering CPR.
In a lengthy email, Officer Stillman’s lawyer Tim Grace said the 13-year-old left the officer no choice but to shoot.
“The juvenile offender had the gun in his right hand … looked at the officer which could be interpreted as attempting to acquire a target and began to turn to face the officer attempting to swing the gun in his direction,” Mr Grace wrote.
“At this point the officer was faced with a life threatening and deadly force situation. All prior attempts to deescalate and gain compliance with all of the officer’s lawful orders had failed.”
Adeena Weiss-Ortiz, an attorney for Toledo’s family, told reporters the footage and other videos “speak for themselves”.
She said it is irrelevant whether Adam was holding a gun before he turned toward the officer.
“If he had a gun, he tossed it,” she said.
“The officer said: ‘Show me your hands.’ He complied. He turned around.”
The Chicago Police Department typically does not release the names of officers involved in such shootings this early on in an investigation, but Officer Stillman’s name, age and race – he is 34 and white – were listed in the investigation reports released on Thursday.