Judge to rule Friday in trial of man who was with Adam Toledo when cop shot 13-year-old
Lawyers for Ruben Roman say evidence suggests 13-year-old Adam Toledo fired shots that drew police, led to fatal foot chase.
A verdict is expected Friday in the trial of a 22-year-old man who allegedly shot at a car while standing alongside 13-year-old Adam Toledo moments before the teen was shot by a Chicago police officer.
Judge Charles Burns said he wanted time before reaching a ruling in the case of 22-year-old Ruben Roman, who is charged with firing the gunshots that drew police to a Little Village alley and prompted a police foot chase that ended with Roman in cuffs and Toledo shot dead. Body-worn camera footage from the officer who fired the fatal shot— as Toledo turned with his hands raised a split-second after dropping a gun— led to protests across Chicago and helped prompt CPD to change its policy on foot pursuits.
In a case where prosecutors sought to prove only that Roman had fired the shots that alerted police and led to the fatal foot chase, Roman’s lawyers argued that the video was too grainy and distant to identify either Roman or Toledo. Other, circumstantial evidence— such as the fact Roman had no gunshot residue on his clothing while Toledo’s clothing did— pointed to Toledo as the shooter.
“Even in light of all this evidence, there is not enough to show Ruben Roman possessed or fired a weapon,” said Assistant Public Defender Karin Talwar. “There is evidence of a possible other theory with the presence of residue on” Toledo.
Roman’s trial included about five hours of testimony and argument, a fairly long amount of time for any of the hundreds of gun cases that pass through the busy Leighton Criminal Court Building. Prosecutors called to the stand ballistics experts, introduced DNA and gunshot residue test results, as well as surveillance video and the body-worn camera footage of the officer who cuffed Roman as Toledo continued sprinting down the alley seconds before the teen was shot.
Assistant State’s Attorney John Henning said there was evidence to link Roman to a pair of gloves showing traces of gunshot residue that were found in the alley where Toledo was shot. Playing an enhanced version of the video for Burns, who stepped off the bench to get a closer look at the courtroom monitor, Henning said surveillance video was clear enough to show Roman shooting at a car near the intersection of West 24th Street and South Sawyer Avenue, and to see that the clothing matched what police and the medical examiner said Roman and Toledo were wearing.
“This is not a lot about the [gunshot residue] or the DNA. That sort of equals out,” Henning said. “It’s about that video. What you see on that video is Ruben Roman stepping forward and firing that gun.”
Burns did ask Talwar whether Roman might have been guilty of the weapons charges under the “accountability theory” if Toledo had in fact been the shooter, because the teen and Roman were together at the time of the shooting and ran off together.
“There are two people walking together, two people fleeing together ... and at least one individual is found with a gun in close proximity to your client,” Burns said.