The Cook County state’s attorney’s office is investigating how a veteran prosecutor ended up describing 13-year-old Adam Toledo as having a gun in his hand when he was shot by the Chicago police even though body-camera footage appears to show the boy without a weapon when he was killed.
“The officer tells [Adam] to drop it as [Adam] turns towards the officer. [Adam] has a gun in his right hand,” Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy told Cook County Judge Susana Ortiz during an April 10 hearing. “The officer fires one shot at [Adam], striking him in the chest. The gun that [Adam] was holding landed against the fence a few feet away.”
Murphy was reading from a proffer — an outline of criminal charges — against 21-year-old Ruben Roman, who was arrested at the scene of Adam’s shooting in Little Village.
The proffer matches a portion of what the video of the fatal March 29 shooting shows. But it doesn’t note that Adam dropped his weapon and had his hands in the air less than a second before the officer fired the shot.
Chicago news outlets, including the Chicago Sun-Times, reported that Murphy was indicating that Adam had a gun in his hand when he was shot.
Sarah Sinovic, a spokeswoman for Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, would not say Friday why it took the office five days to say that Murphy did not “fully inform himself” before Ruben’s bail hearing.
“An attorney who works in this office failed to fully inform himself before speaking in court,” the prosecutor’s office’s written statement Thursday said. “Errors like that cannot happen and this has been addressed with the individual involved. The video speaks for itself.”
The state’s attorney’s office does not believe Murphy lied or knowingly presented inaccurate information, Sinovic said Friday. But Murphy “did not make it clear at what point [Adam] didn’t have the gun,” Sinovic said. “Something was presented as fact when it was still under investigation.”
Foxx’s office later said Murphy would be placed on paid leave pending an internal investigation. Murphy declined to comment Friday.
Before Ruben’s bail hearing, Murphy had not seen the security camera video that appears to show Adam tossing the gun behind a fence before he was shot, Sinovic said.
She wouldn’t say whether that footage was available to the state’s attorney’s office at the time of the hearing.
“It’s still under investigation what videos were available to [Murphy],” Sinovic said. “We’re still trying to figure out what he had access to when he made the the statements in court.”
Two sources with knowledge of the investigation told the Sun-Times that Murphy’s proffer had not been approved or read by anyone else in the state’s attorney’s office before it was presented to the judge.
Sinovic would not discuss the office’s policy’s on the approval process of proffers but said the office is investigating whether Murphy’s superiors signed off on the proffer.
Ruben has been charged with reckless discharge of a firearm, unlawful use of a weapon, child endangerment and violating probation.