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Chicago releases video of fatal police shooting of boy, 13

Story By AP
Regional News Published 04/15/2021 3:00PM
Chicago - Chicago's police review board released body camera video on Thursday of a police officer's fatal shooting of a 13-year-old boy late last month.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, an independent board that investigates Chicago police shootings, released the footage of the March 29 fatal shooting of Adam Toledo after allowing the boy's family to view it Tuesday.

The board initially said it couldn't release the video because it involved the shooting of a minor, but it changed course after the mayor and police superintendent called for the video's release.

The release comes in the wake of the traffic-stop shooting of Daunte Wright by a an officer in a Minneapolis suburb that has sparked protests as the broader Minneapolis area nervously awaits the outcome of the trial for Derek Chauvin, the first of four officers charged in George Floyd's death.

In Chicago, police said officers responded to an area of the Little Village neighborhood on the city's West Side after learning that gun shots had been detected in the area by a police-operated technology. The teen and a 21-year-old man fled on foot when confronted by police, and an officer shot the teen once in the chest following a foot chase during what the department described as an armed confrontation. Police said a handgun the boy had been carrying was recovered at the scene.

The review board declined to release all but the most basic details of what happened, leaving many questions unanswered, including whether or not the boy pointed the gun at the officer or fired on him before the officer shot him.

The name of the officer, who was placed on administrative leave per department policy in police-involved shootings, has also not been released.

Some details did emerge at a hearing for a 21-year-old man who authorities say was with Toledo the night he died, including prosecutors' contention that the man fired the gun several times before officers arrived and had handed it to the teen.

Neither Mayor Lori Lightfoot nor Superintendent David Brown has discussed the shooting in detail or suggested the officer did anything wrong.

But the video's release comes at a time of inflamed tensions between police and the public. Besides the ongoing trial of Chauvin, the country has in recent days watched video of the fatal shooting of Wright, and a police officer in Virginia pepper-spraying a Black and Latino U.S. Army second lieutenant during another traffic stop.

The Chicago Police Department has a long history of brutality and racism that has fomented mistrust among the city's many Black and Hispanic residents. Adding to that mistrust is the city's history of suppressing damning police videos.

The city fought for months to keep the public from seeing the 2014 video of a white officer shoot a Black teenager, Laquan McDonald, 16 times, killing him. The officer was eventually convicted of murder. And the city tried to stop a TV news station from broadcasting video of a botched 2019 police raid in which an innocent, naked, Black woman wasn't allowed to put on clothes until after she was handcuffed.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP's earlier story follows below.

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot urged the public Thursday to remain peaceful and reserve judgment until an independent board can complete its investigation into the police shooting of a 13-year-old boy last month.

During a news conference before the promised release of investigation materials, including body camera footage of an officer fatally shooting Adam Toledo on March 29, Lightfoot called on people to keep calm. Choking up at times, she decried the city's long history of police violence and misconduct, especially in Black and brown communities, and said too many young people are left vulnerable to "systemic failures that we simply must fix."

"We live in a city that is traumatized by a long history of police violence and misconduct," the mayor 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."

Asked whether the video showed whether the teen fired on the officer, Lightfoot said she had seen no evidence that he had. She described watching the jumpy footage as "excruciating."

"As a mom, this is not something you want children to see," said the mayor. She declined to say if the footage showed whether the teen was holding a gun when he was shot, but she called a prosecutor's assertion at a recent hearing that Toledo had a gun when he was shot "correct."

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or COPA, was expected to release the bodycam footage of Toledo's March 29 shooting at 2:30 p.m. It was simultaneously expected to release other investigation materials, including video captured by a third party, arrest reports and audio recordings of shots being fired in the area that led police to respond.

The board didn't say what the video shows or give any other information about the investigation.

The planned release comes in the wake of the traffic-stop shooting of Daunte Wright by an officer in a Minneapolis suburb that has sparked protests as the broader Minneapolis area nervously awaits the outcome of the trial of Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd.

In Chicago, police said officers responded to an area of the predominantly Latino and Black neighborhood Little Village on the city's West Side before dawn on the morning of the shooting after a police technology detected gun shots there. The teen, who was Latino, and a 21-year-old man fled on foot when confronted by police, and an officer shot the teen once in the chest following a foot chase during what the department described as an armed confrontation.

Police said a handgun the boy had been carrying was recovered at the scene. The 21-year-old man was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest.

The review board initially said it couldn't release the video because it involved the shooting of a minor, but it changed course after the mayor and police superintendent called for the video's release.

"COPA's core values of integrity and transparency are essential to building public trust, particularly in incidents related to an officer involved shooting, and we are unwavering in our commitment to uphold these values," the board said in its statement Wednesday.

Footage of the Adam Toledo shooting has been widely anticipated in the city, where the release of some previous police shooting videos sparked major protests, including the 2015 release of footage of a white officer shooting Black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times, killing him.

Before the video's release, some businesses in downtown Chicago's "Magnificent Mile" shopping district boarded up their windows. Lightfoot said the city has been preparing for months for a verdict in the Chauvin trial and that it had activated a "neighborhood protection plan." She said the plan could be applied to the release of the Toledo shooting video. "It happens now that these circumstances are sitting next to each other," she said.

The Toledo family, meanwhile, issued a statement urging people to "remain peaceful."

"We have heard reports in the media that more protests are planned today, and while we have no direct knowledge of such events, we pray that for the sake of our city, people remain peaceful to honor Adam's memory and work constructively to promote reform," the family said.

On Thursday, before the video's release, Lightfoot and attorneys for the family and city said in a joint statement that they agreed Wednesday that in addition to the release of the video, all investigation materials should be made public, including a slowed-down compilation of what happened that morning.

"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 read. "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 Chicago Police Department has a long history of brutality and racism that has fomented mistrust among the city's many Black and Hispanic residents. Adding to that mistrust is the city's history of suppressing damning police videos.

The city fought for months to keep the public from seeing the 2014 video of a white officer shooting McDonald 16 times, killing him. The officer was eventually convicted of murder. And the city tried to stop a TV news station from broadcasting video of a botched 2019 police raid in which an innocent, naked, Black woman wasn't allowed to put on clothes until after she was handcuffed.
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