CHICAGO (CBS) — After the Civilian Office of Police Accountability released body camera video showing the final moments of 13-year-old Adam Toledo’s life, the City Council Latino Caucus said the footage clearly shows the boy was not armed at the moment an officer shot and killed him last month.
“There is no question of what transpired now: a scared thirteen year old child stopped when he was directed to by police, he raised his hands as directed, and he complied. That did not prevent him from being killed by police,” the Latino Caucus said in a statement. “The body camera footage shows that Adam Toledo was an unarmed child with his hands up when he was shot by a Chicago police officer.”
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Footage released by COPA on Thursday shows Adam and 21-year-old Ruben Roman standing on a street corner when several shots were fired early on the morning of March 29. Adam can be seen wearing a white hat, and Roman can be seen wearing a tan or gold jacket.
Both then ran past a church and into a nearby alley. Body camera footage shows an officer chasing Adam down the alley, telling the boy to stop and show the officer his hands. Adam can then be seen stopping near a gap in the fence in the alley, with both hands at his side, his left shoulder facing the officer.
When the body camera video is slowed down, a frame of the footage does appear to show a gun in Adam’s hand just before he raises his arms and the officer opens fire. Surveillance video of the same moment from a different angle appears to show Adam with his right arm behind the fence, possibly making a throwing motion, and then turning back toward the officer.
However, at the moment when the officer opens fire, the body camera video shows Adam has his hands up, and they appear to be empty.
The first time a gun is clearly visible in the officer’s body camera video is about 2 minutes and 30 seconds after the officer shot Adam, when the officer shines his flashlight on a handgun on the ground, leaning against the fence next to Adam, on the other side of the alley.
How did that gun get to the back side of the fence? That’s likely a key question in the COPA investigation of the shooting.
The Latino Caucus called Adam’s death “a tragedy by all measures.”
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“Our deepest condolences and love go out to Adam’s mother and the Toledo family as they mourn the death of their son, a 7th grader at Gary Elementary School, a member of our community – who shared the same struggles, aspirations, and tribulations that our immigrant families often face. Our hearts are with the Toledo family and all the mothers who are doing everything they can to raise their kids in a city that has prioritized police more than our children,” the caucus said in a statement.
The caucus also said Adam’s shooting death by police shows the City Council needs to approve a civilian police oversight plan dubbed the Empowering Communities for Public Safety ordinance.
“This horrible incident exposes an issue that we all know too well. Policing is broken. It’s been broken for a very long time. As we grieve and mourn another life lost to police violence we want to stress the need to pass the Empowering Communities for Public Safety (ECPS), a unity ordinance born out of the years long efforts from the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA) and the coalition for a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC),” the Latino Caucus said.
The Sun-Times reports the ECPS proposal – which Mayor Lori Lightfoot opposes – would create an 11-member board that would be given the final say in disputes over policy unless two-thirds of the City Council decides otherwise. The commission also would have the power to cast a no-confidence vote in the superintendent, and hire and fire the head of COPA.
Under the ordinance, Chicago voters also would be asked to vote on a binding referendum in 2022 to authorize the civilian oversight board to hire and fire the superintendent, negotiate contracts with police unions, and set the department’s budget.
“ECPS will put the power in the hands of the people to set police policies and hold police accountable. ECPS will be a major step towards fixing our broken policing system. The time to pass ECPS is now.”
“Beyond enacting community control of the police, we must move away from broken policing and move towards proven public safety strategies. Study after study shows that investing in education, jobs, housing, and health services are far more successful at increasing public safety than police or prisons. The time to divest from broken policing and reinvest in proven public safety measures is now.”
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Lightfoot has said she will propose her own plan for a civilian oversight board for CPD, but has yet to do so.