CHICAGO – Tensions are high as the city prepares for the release of “troubling video footage” of the fatal police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo last month.
For the first time, prosecutors on Saturday described what the officer’s body camera footage showed, alleging Adam had a gun when he was fatally shot by police on the city’s West Side.
The details were revealed during a bond hearing for Ruben Roman, 21, who was with Adam at the time. Prosecutors said shots fired by Roman while standing next to Adam set off a chain of events that led to the fatal shooting.
This week, Adam’s family is expected to view the police body-cam video before it’s released to the public. Meanwhile, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that police canceled days off for officers in preparation for possible demonstrations. Chicago Police spokeswoman Sally Brown declined to comment to USA TODAY.
Here’s what we know Monday:
What happened leading up to Adam Toledo’s shooting?
At a bail hearing Saturday for Ruben Roman, prosecutors shed more light on what happened leading up to the shooting. They say surveillance video shows Roman walking up to a corner and taking a “shooting stance” as a vehicle drove by before he fired seven or eight shots while standing next to Adam.
The relationship between Adam and Roman is unclear at this time.
Police have said its ShotSpotter technology detected eight gunshots and officers were dispatched to the largely Latino neighborhood in the city’s West Side around 2:30 a.m. on March 29. When police arrived, Adam and Roman fled, Chicago Police Department Superintendent David Brown said at a news conference last Monday.
One officer tackled and arrested Roman while another chased Adam, who prosecutors say was holding a gun in his right hand when the officer shot him. Officers repeatedly told Adam to put the gun down before he was shot, prosecutors say.
That gun matched cartridge casings found in the area where Roman was firing, prosecutors say.
An officer shot Adam once in the chest during the “armed confrontation” in an alley, police say. Adam died at the scene.
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Who is the officer involved?
The identity of the officer who shot Adam has not yet been released. He has been placed on administrative leave for 30 days, which Brown says is “routine protocol.”
What do we know about Ruben Roman?
Following the shooting, Roman was released from custody on a misdemeanor charge before being taken back into custody.
An arrest warrant was issued last week after Roman skipped a court date Wednesday for an unlawful use of weapon charge in an unrelated case. He was found April 9 hiding in a closet at his mother’s house, prosecutors say.
When questioned about Adam’s identity, prosecutors allege Roman gave them a fake name, denied knowing Adam or firing any shots, and instead claimed to be in the alley waiting for a train.
Roman’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Courtney Smallwood, called Adam’s death “tragic” and rejected the implication Roman is responsible for his death.
“The victim is dead at the hand of the Chicago police officers, not my client,” she said, according to the Associated Press.
Roman was held on a $150,000 bond, and faces felony charges of unlawful use and reckless discharge of a firearm, as well as child endangerment and violating probation. He was previously charged with a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest related to the March 29 shooting.
The Toledo family was present during the bond hearing but is not in the position to comment, their attorneys, Adeena Weiss Ortiz and Joel Hirschhorn, said in a statement.
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Has the family viewed the footage? When will it be made public?
Adam’s family is scheduled to view the police body camera footage and other related materials this week, according to a statement from their attorneys. They did not say specify when or what details would be made public.
“The City of Chicago, the Chicago Police Department and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability have been very cooperative,” the family said. Previously, the family said it had “requested expedited meetings with pertinent authorities to obtain evidence and to review the police body camera footage and other available video.”
The police body-camera footage is expected to be released to the public after the family has viewed it.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or COPA, initially said it was prohibited from releasing the video because Adam was a minor. But the agency later changed course, saying state law “does not bar publication of the body worn and third-party video camera footage the agency has obtained.”
The office has described the body-camera video as “troubling video footage”.
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How is the family responding?
Adam’s funeral took place Friday. “The family appreciates the outpouring of support and the respect shown for their privacy in this time of mourning,” the family said in a statement last week.
At a news conference last Monday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot questioned “how a 13-year-old boy came to be in possession of a gun” before information had been made public about whether or not Adam had a gun when police shot him. Lightfoot also spoke of “gangs … preying upon our most vulnerable.”
After the news conference, the family responded by saying they were “concerned by presumptions, implications, and statements made today that are not supported by the facts made public so far.”
“We are unable to refute or respond to these statements until we obtain the evidentiary facts, which so far are known only to the police,” the statement said. “We do, however, want to correct the hurtful and false mischaracterization of Adam as a lonely child of the street who had no one to turn to. This is simply not true.”
Adam was a “loved and supported 13-year-old boy” from a “close-knit family,” the statement said. He lived with his mother, his 90-year-old grandfather and two of his siblings, and his father was in his life, the statement said. He attended Gary Elementary School where he had the support of his teachers and his classmates.
“Adam was not alone,” the statement said.
What has the mayor said?
At a news conference last Monday, Mayor Lightfoot called for reforms to how police pursue suspects on foot and urged a “thorough, expeditious” investigation.
Lightfoot said the tragedy emphasizes the need to change Chicago police policy, saying police pursuits on foot are one of the most dangerous activities police engage in because they are often separated from their partners and communication becomes difficult.
“We cannot and will not push the foot pursuit reform off for another day,” Lightfoot said. “No longer can we afford to put off to tomorrow what we can address today, because lives are truly at stake.”
Lightfoot also said she spoke briefly with Adam’s mother, Elizabeth Toledo, to offer her condolences.
“Let us not forget that a mother’s child is dead,” she said. “Siblings are without their brother. And this community is again grieving.”
How has the public responded?
Dozens of community members gathered for a vigil with a balloon release last Monday evening in the Little Village neighborhood where Adam died.
Ana Solano, an organizer at the local grassroots advocacy organization Únete La Villita, helped organize a rally following the vigil, which she said gave people “an opportunity to express our anger and grief and to process our trauma together as a community.”
Solano said the shooting has been particularly traumatic for the Latino community in Chicago, especially for young people who might see themselves in Adam. The rally was also meant to demand answers and accountability from Chicago police, she said.
Some of those answers may come in the release of the body camera footage, but Solano is partially reluctant to watch the “traumatizing” video.
“I can’t even imagine how it would feel for his mother to watch it,” she said. “And even if the video comes out, are the police really going to hold themselves accountable?”
A GoFundMe page has raised more than $50,000 for the Toledo family.
“Adam had many dreams that he will never get to live out,” Elizabeth Toledo wrote on the page. “Ironically one of his dreams was to become a police officer.”