Does the Bodycam Video of Chicago Police Shooting 13-Year-Old Adam Toledo Prove a Horrendous Police Act?

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) for the City of Chicago has released numerous videos taken by police-worn bodycams at the scene of the shooting on Wednesday of 13-year-old Adam Toledo on March 29, 2021.

It seems there is no way to “spin” this story — ultimately all questions come back to the fact that a 13-year-old boy is dead at the hands of the Chicago Police.

The reporting on the story is that police were directed to the specific location in response to a “Shotspotter” report of “shots fired” at 3:00 am.  Shotspotter is a firearm discharge system that uses sensors to detect the possibility of gunshots pinpointed to a specific location.

The officers who first arrived on the scene observed two males in an alley, a 21-year-old named Ruben Roman, and the 13-year-old Toledo.  According to the police report, both Roman and Toledo ran when they saw the police, and Todelo was shot once in the chest by officers who stated that he turned towards them and had a gun.

The release of the Bodycam video seems to establish the contrary to be true — one video that is being widely distributed on Twitter shows quite clearly that at the moment the fatal shot was fired, Toledo had both hands in the air and both hands were empty.

Here is a still image from the video, blow up some to give a very clear view of Toledo at the instant the shot was fired.

But just a week ago a prosecutor for Cook County who is handling the case against Roman stated in court that Toledo was armed at the time he was shot by police.  This statement was made long after the investigators had reviewed the video of Toledo being shot. There was a gun found at the scene, and Roman was charged following his arrest with the “negligent discharge of a firearm.”  There was a handgun recovered at the scene.

During a bond hearing for 21-year-old Ruben Roman, who was with Adam the night of the shooting, Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy described the altercation in a proffer: “The officer tells [Toledo] to drop it as [Toledo] turns towards the officer.  [Toledo] has a gun in his right hand.”

 

Presumably, the Chicago Police have some physical evidence upon which to base their charge that Roman discharged a firearm.  The “Shotspotter” system alerted police that shots were fired in the area where Toledo and Roman were spotted.  They both ran when the police approached.

It is almost a cliche now that when an adult and juvenile are confronted together by police, the adult will hand to the juvenile any contraband the adult does not want to be found on his person when the police search him.

At this point we do not know what the evidence will show with regard to possession of the handgun.  If the gun was recently fired, and Roman has gunshot residue on his hands, that will place the gun in his possession at some point before the police arrived.

But here is a report from CNN shortly after the videos were released:

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If the gun also has Toledo’s prints on it, and the gun was found next to where Toledo was shot, that will support the claim that Toledo had the gun — given to him by Roman most likely — and was tossing it on the ground when he was shot, which is what CNN is reporting that its staff has detected upon close examination of the videos.

At this point, I only have the videos that are posted on Twitter, and I cannot make that kind of determination from them.  If CNN is correct, I’m sure enhanced videos will be put out soon.

But when I read that CNN story I had to pause for a moment to consider whether CNN might have an agenda here in putting out this report.  Could it be that CNN is trying to keep Chicago from exploding as news of the videos spreads?  Is CNN trying to ride to the rescue of a Democrat Big City Mayor — Lori Lightfoot, maybe the worst Big-City Mayor in the country?

CNN’s destruction of its own credibility over the past 10 years gives me pause to consider such a thing.  But while rioting and looting in Chicago might be great for CNN’s ratings, Donald Trump is no longer the President, and US cities being burned by rioters will tend to reflect poorly on the Democrat politicians now in charge.

In my opinion, there are a variety of factors that all contributed to the tragic and senseless killing of a 13-year-old boy in that Chicago alley late last month.

What was a 13-year-old doing in a Chicago alley with a 21-year-old at 3:00 am early on a Monday morning?  Do we allow the parents of Adam Toledo to escape scrutiny for why the child they brought into the world was in that position to begin with?

It is indisputable and uncontestable that the City of Chicago is the functional equivalent of an urban war zone, with injuries and killings from numerous shooting incidents every single weekend of every single month for the entire year. This has been the situation in Chicago for a significant period of time, but it has reached absurd levels of violence under the “leadership of” Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

It has been reported for a long time that the Chicago Police do not believe they have the support of the City’s political administration and have largely pulled back from aggressive law enforcement tactics that might curb the violence that has become endemic to Chicago’s minority inner-city neighborhoods.

The Chicago Police, like many departments all across the country, now operate from a mindset of fear.  Fear of making a mistake, fear of being scapegoated even when they don’t make a mistake, and fear and distrust of the communities they serve where a militant and vocal minority view them as an occupying force.

Reports today are that municipal buildings all around Chicago are being boarded up in anticipation of violence to come today, tonight, and in the days ahead.

Solutions?  I don’t have any to offer.