Family of Adam Toledo files wrongful death lawsuit as top prosecutor decides no charges will be filed against cop who shot 13-year-old

“Officer Eric Stillman chased, shot, and killed 13-year-old Adam without justification,” the lawsuit states.

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A memorial has grown on the spot where Adam Toledo was standing when he was fatally shot by a Chicago police officer last month, and the 13-year-old also is remembered in a mural painted since then on the wooden fence, next to Farragut High School.

A memorial for 13-year-old Adam Toledo, who had his hands up when he was shot by police, is seen in an alley near the 2300 block of South Sawyer Avenue, Friday afternoon, April 16, 2021.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The family of Adam Toledo filed a wrongful death lawsuit Tuesday against the city and the Chicago police officer who shot and killed the 13-year-old last year during a foot chase in Little Village.

Officer Eric Stillman “unreasonably failed to issue clear, direct commands that would have de-escalated and slowed down the situation,” the lawsuit states. “Officer Eric Stillman chased, shot and killed 13-year-old Adam without justification.”

The lawsuit was filed less than two hours before Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced that her office would not file criminal charges against Stillman in the teen’s death.

Foxx also announced that the officer who killed 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez just days later — also during a foot chase — would not be charged.

A still frame from video recorded by a Chicago police officer’s body-worn camera shows Adam Toledo just before he was shot by the officer.

A still frame from video recorded by a Chicago police officer’s body-worn camera shows Adam Toledo just before he was shot by the officer.

Civilian Office of Police Accountability

In the Toledo case, video from Stillman’s body camera shows him chasing Toledo down an alley in Little Village after responding to a ShotSpotter alert on March 29. The officer ordered him to stop and show his hands.

Video shows Adam standing sideways in a large gap in a wooden fence with what looks like a gun in one of his hands behind his back. The officer was on the other side of the alley as he yelled, “Drop it!”

In less than a second, Adam dropped the gun and raised his hands as the officer fired. Adam fell to the ground, and the officer called for an ambulance and performed CPR.

In announcing there would be no criminal charges filed against Stillman, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said the officer “reacted to the perceived threat presented by Adam Toledo.”

She added that “we found that there’s no evidence to prove that Officer Stillman acted with criminal intent.”

But the lawsuit argues that Adam “never posed an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm to Stillman or any other person. Adam never brandished, pointed or otherwise threatened Stillman with a firearm or any other weapon whatsoever.

“Stillman’s conduct and use of excessive and deadly force was not objectively reasonable,” it states.

The lawsuit also accuses Stillman of failing to follow a department advisory on foot chases.

“Stillman, while in pursuit, unholstered his service weapon contrary to the advice provided in the CPD Foot Pursuits Training Bulletin,” the suit states. “As instructed by Stillman, Adam slowed down to surrender as he approached an opening in the alleyway fence. Stillman, however, failed to de-escalate the situation as required by the February 2020 CPD Use of Force Policy.”

The deaths of Adam and Alvarez sparked protests and calls for a moratorium on foot pursuits. The lawsuit alleges that the city’s “years-long failure to address deficiencies” in the police department’s policies on foot chases led to Adam’s death.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for “grief and emotional pain and suffering, loss of comfort, love, affection, support, protection and society” as a result of Toledo’s death.

Tim Grace, an attorney for Stillman, said he hadn’t yet seen the lawsuit. The city’s Law Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The city’s Law Department “has not yet been officially served with the complaint through the proper legal channels,” spokeswoman Kristen Cabanban said late Tuesday afternoon. “Upon receipt, the complaint will be reviewed. We will have no further comment as the matter is now in litigation.”

Last month, the family of Alvarez filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Chicago citing its failure to implement a foot pursuit policy for police.

“The city’s failure to implement a foot chase policy and its support of a policing culture of impunity were the driving force behind” the death, the lawsuit said.

Christopher Smith, an attorney for the family, said the officer who tried to stop Alvarez that night “did not witness Anthony breaking any law, nor was Anthony wanted for any violent or felony offense. Startled and scared, Anthony ran.”

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