The mayor of Chicago choked up as she pleaded with the public for peace ahead of the release of bodycam video showing a 13-year-old boy being fatally shot by a city police officer — warning that the footage was “incredibly difficult” to watch.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at a press conference Thursday that the March 29 shooting that left Adam Toledo dead put a “family in crisis” and a city on edge.
The footage is expected to be released at 2:30 p.m. local time Thursday by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which reviews all Chicago police-involved shootings.
“I have seen those videos and let me just say, they are incredibly difficult to watch, particularly at the end,” Lightfoot said, describing the teen’s death as a tragedy.
Lightfoot said the shooting incident was a “complicated and nuanced” matter, but urged the public to think of the teen and his family before reacting.
“As more and more people see this footage, I want to ask again that everyone tuning in think first about Adam Toledo,” the mayor said. “I also ask that each of us give [Toledo’s family] space to breathe. No parent should ever have a video broadcast widely of their child’s last moments.”
Lightfoot, whose voice cracked at times, said the footage was “excruciating,” particularly the bodycam footage that shows the boy after he was shot.
“This is not something you want children to see,” she said.
The mayor also acknowledged how Adam’s death reverberated throughout the city and beyond, noting the “outrage” in Chicago and the city’s “long history” of police brutality and misconduct.
“Our young people have been living with a lot of trauma for a long time,” she said.
However, she also urged people to wait for all the facts.
“This lack of trust makes it more difficult to wait for the facts,” Lightfoot continued. “I urge each who cares and loves this city, let’s wait until we hear all the facts.”
Lightfoot called on Chicago police to review its foot pursuit policy and urged the federal government to ramp up enforcement efforts to get illegal guns off city streets.
“We cannot fight this fight without federal partnership,” she said. “We’ve got to do things differently.”
The timing of Toledo’s death added to the city’s growing “fear and anger,” the mayor acknowledged — amid the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd and protests following the police shooting of Daunte Wright in Minnesota.
When asked by a reporter, Lightfoot said there was no evidence indicating that Toledo shot at police.
Earlier Thursday, Lightfoot issued a joint statement with attorneys for Toledo’s family saying the much-anticipated release would be a “first step” in a healing process for his family and the city alike.
The city’s top attorney previously met with lawyers for Toledo’s family, Adeena Weiss Ortiz and Joel Hirschhorn, and all parties agreed to release materials from the shooting, including a “slowed-down compilation” of the confrontation that led to the teen’s death.
COPA officials informed Toledo’s family Wednesday that the footage would be released sometime Thursday.
A spokesman for the review board, Ephraim Eaddy, said numerous body-worn camera videos of both involved officers and responding officers would be released, as well as third-party videos.
Toledo was shot once in the chest during what police have called an “armed confrontation” in the city’s Little Village section.
Officers responded to the location after gunfire was detected by ShotSpotter technology and the Latino teen allegedly fled on foot with a 21-year-old man, Ruben Roman, as police responded.
An officer shot Toledo following a foot chase and the teen died at the scene.
Roman was charged Saturday with child endangerment, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and reckless discharge of a firearm. He was arrested Friday, the Chicago Tribune reported.
A prosecutor said in court that Toledo kept running as an officer ordered him to stop before ordering the teen to show his hands, the Tribune reported.
“Drop it, drop it,” the officer reportedly said as Toledo turned toward the cop with a gun in his right hand, Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said in court.
The officer fired one shot, striking Toledo in the chest. A gun he had been holding landed feet away and was recovered, Murphy said.
The prosecutors said the gun found near Toledo matched casings found near where Roman had been firing, the Tribune reported.