‘Show your hands,’ the officer ordered, a split second before shooting Adam Toledo
A newly released video casts another dark cloud over the Chicago Police Department.
Shots were fired in Little Village. We know that.
A Chicago Police Department ShotSpotter recorder picked up the crack of gunfire. By our count, there were nine shots.
Minutes later, a Chicago Police officer responding to the shots fired found himself running down an alley. He was chasing a suspect he thought had a gun, although it’s unclear to us whether he ever saw the gun in the suspect’s hand or just assumed.
This was at 2:36 a.m. on March 29.
What happened next, as recorded by the officer’s body camera, was horrific.
Many questions remain about how and why 13-year-old Adam Toledo came to be shot and killed by the officer. But having watched the video repeatedly, we are forced to conclude that the boy’s shooting marked another dark day for the police and our city.
We wish we could say otherwise. And we urge peace and fairness as an investigation into the shooting continues. But what we were told earlier by police officials and prosecutors, that Adam Toledo was shot during an “armed confrontation” — which reasonable people might take to mean he was holding or even pointing a gun — simply does not hold up.
Instead, we are left with a fraction of a single second to contemplate. That’s the time that elapsed from when the officer ordered Toledo to show his hands to when he shot the boy.
Is there another possibility? Are we missing something? We welcome that discussion.
Certainly, it is easy to Monday-morning-quarterback the instant decisions an officer must make in harrowing circumstances. The head of Chicago’s police officer union, the Fraternal Order of Police, has already concluded that the shooting was “100%” justified because the suspect “turned with a gun in his hand.”
Watch the video for yourself, at suntimes.com. Tell us what you see.
The officer’s bodycam video starts at 2:36:34 in the morning. The officer is driving through Little Village. Two minutes later, he exits his vehicle and runs down an alley.
At 2:38:35, he says: “Police, stop.” He repeats: “Stop f—- right now.”
At about that moment, a separate video shows, Toledo may have been tossing something, perhaps a gun, through a hole in a fence. Another officer later found a gun behind the fence.
At 2:38:36, the officer says: “Hey, show me your f— hands. Stop it. Stop.” Or possibly: “Drop it. Drop.”
At 2:38:40, Toledo appears to do just that. He raises his hands. He seems to be complying. He does not appear to have a gun — not now, anyway.
But almost instantly, the officer shoots Toledo in the chest.
The boy falls to the ground. The officer calls over his radio: “Shots fired, shots fired, get an ambulance over here now.”
It would be too late.
Facing dangers running down alleys
Police work is dangerous. Watch the video and believe it. We would ask anybody who is keen to castigate the police in every instance to consider how eager they might be to run down a Chicago alley in the middle of the night after a suspect they think is armed.
But precisely because police work is so dangerous, for all around, officers must be properly recruited. The job takes such character. They must be thoroughly trained and held accountable, each and every time.
We have plenty of questions as to why a 13-year-old boy was out on the streets at 2:30 in the morning. We’d also like to know who gave him that gun, if he had one. We look forward to a tough prosecution of the adult who apparently was running the streets with him that night, 21-year-old Ruben Roman.
But the heart of the matter remains a single split second at 2:38:36 in the morning. An officer ordered a suspect to show his hands. The suspect did exactly that. The officer shot him.
What is Chicago to make of this one, this time?
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