Wait on the facts before assigning blame in the shooting of a 13-year-old boy

We urge fairness. And we urge the release of all video evidence.

SHARE Wait on the facts before assigning blame in the shooting of a 13-year-old boy

A potted plant was left this last week at the approximate location in Little Village where a Chicago Police officer shot and killed a 13-year-old boy, Adam Toledo.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Chicago faces a test of fairness.

In an alley in the Little Village neighborhood early on Monday morning, at a time when most folks are sleeping, a Chicago police officer shot a 13-year-old boy. The police say the boy, who was with a 21-year-old man, had a gun.

Given the tenor of our times, it is unsurprising that some Chicagoans are running to opposing ideological corners — the police shooting was entirely justified or entirely unjustified — without waiting to learn all the facts.

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We urge fairness instead. We urge everyone to take a breath and wait until more is known. And we urge the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability to release immediately all videos that might shed light on what happened. Among those videos is a likely key piece of evidence: footage from a body camera worn by an officer.

On Thursday, COPA argued that while it is required by city policy to release body camera video of police shootings within 60 days of an incident — a rule imposed after the police shooting of Laquan McDonald in 2014 — state law prohibits the office from releasing video if the victim is younger than 18.

On Friday afternoon, though, COPA reversed its position on the matter, now concluding that state law “does not bar publication of the body worn and third-party video camera footage.” The video, COPA said, would now be released “as soon as possible.”

We would hope “soon” means no more than days, not weeks or months.

That said, what the video shows could prove to be inconclusive, frustrating as that would be. A thorough investigation — one that allows for fair judgments to be made — will also require an examination of all other possible evidence, including 911 calls, police reports, radio transmissions and witness statements.

Here’s what we can say right now for sure:

When a 13-year-old boy, a child still in grammar school, is killed by anybody, anywhere, for anything, the adult world is to blame. There is no other possibility.

The question is which adults.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.

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