Adam Toledo Shooting Puts Focus on Police Foot Chases

Chicago mayor wants a review
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2021 11:25 AM CDT
Adam Toledo Shooting Puts Focus on Police Foot Chases
This image from Chicago Police Department bodycam video shows the moment before Chicago Police officer Eric Stillman fatally shot Adam Toledo, 13, on March 29, 2021, in Chicago.   (Chicago Police Department via AP)

The fallout over the fatal police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago continues after the release of police bodycam video. Officer Eric Stillman shot the teen during a late-night pursuit down an alley. Coverage:

  • Foot chases: The shooting highlights the high-risk nature of foot chases by police, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. The story notes that an estimated 30% of such chases end in the use of force, and a Northwestern professor says it's time for new guidelines. "The minute they are headed down a dark alley with poor visibility where the officer is going to be at risk himself and put Adam at risk of the use of lethal force, the benefit of the foot pursuit should have been evaluated," says Sheila Bedi. The former chief administrator of the Independent Police Review Board says officers need to know that in some cases, "it's perfectly OK to let someone get away." Mayor Lori Lightfoot has called for a policy review, per NBC Chicago.
  • The risk: Alderman Chris Taliaferro, a former cop, says the chase policy does indeed need reform because it puts both officers and suspects at risk—but he cautioned against going too far. "If police can't pursue on foot a fleeing offender, then are we sending a signal to our offenders that they won't get caught because nobody's gonna chase behind me?" he says, per the Sun-Times. "That may be sending the wrong message."

  • Video: A snippet of the video can be seen here. Longer versions are available that show the shooting itself and officers performing CPR on the teen afterward.
  • Weapon: The officer can be heard yelling at the teen to drop his weapon, and the boy appears to toss a gun away just before being shot. The Chicago Tribune assesses: "On a frame-by-frame viewing, a pistol-shaped object appears to be visible in Toledo's right hand behind his back as he pauses near an opening in a fence and turns his head toward the officer." Different footage from across a parking lot "shows the teen stopping with his right arm behind the fence, making an underhanded throwing motion, just before he turns back toward the officer and slumps to the ground."
  • More: The bodycam image "shows that Adam Toledo wasn't holding anything and had his hands up when Stillman shot him once in the chest," per the AP.
  • One view: Adeena Weiss Ortiz, attorney for the Toledo family, says whether the boy was carrying a gun beforehand is irrelevant. “If he had a gun, he tossed it," she says, per the Tribune. "The officer said, 'Show me your hands,' (and Toledo) complied." The officer "is trained to not shoot somebody unarmed. He is trained to look, he is trained not to panic."
  • Opposing view: The head of Chicago's police union says the shooting was "100% justified," per the National Review. "Time-lapse photo shows that that officer had eight-tenths of a second to determine if that weapon was still in [Toledo's] hand or not, period," says John Catanzara. "There's no way a rational person can say they can process that and their muscle reaction would be less than one second." The magazine notes that officer immediately began first aid after the shooting.
(Read more Adam Toledo stories.)

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