Activists, some City Council members saddened by no charges in Toledo, Alvarez shootings
“We are all sad right now. Little Village is sad,” said Baltazar Enriquez, a community organizer.
Little Village organizers, Latino leaders and some City Council members are disappointed and saddened that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx won’t file criminal charges against the Chicago Police officers who fatally shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez in two separate foot pursuits last year.
“This was a child who was killed by the police and of course it hurts,” activist Baltazar Enriquez said of the shooting of Adam Toledo last year in Little Village. He was one of a handful of community organizers that helped lead protests to protest the shootings around the city. “ ... We are all sad right now. Little Village is sad.”
But Enriquez said activists weren’t expecting charges; state’s attorneys in Cook County over the years have historically been reluctant to charge police officers with crimes. Foxx said she couldn’t charge the officers in either case because both reasonably feared for their lives.
“Besides the conviction of the officer who killed Laquan McDonald, that office has routinely shown a police officer can shoot just about anyone and not be charged,” he said. “Police officers have impunity, and they know it.”
Arturo Jáuregui, an attorney with the Pilsen Law Center, and a coalition of Latino leaders demanded the Chicago Police Department place a moratorium on foot pursuits following the death of both Alvarez and Toledo. They later called on U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate the events that led to Toledo’s death.
But, he said, that call will probably go unanswered now that the states attorney’s office has “tainted” the case.
“That may be a difficult road to follow now that the state’s attorney painted the case with such a broad stroke because now the U.S. Attorney General’s office will probably determine it is a local issue and choose not to bring charges,” Jáuregui said. “It’s disappointing to the extent that this has occurred and is why it is more of a pressing case that the city of Chicago come up with a foot pursuit policy.”
Jáuregui said he and others have contributed their thoughts to CPD’s temporary foot pursuit policy but says more needs to be done,” he said.
“There is something very fundamental here that if the city and Police Department expects to have trust in them then the system needs to hold police accountable for their actions.”
Ald. Mike Rodriguez (22nd), whose ward includes the Little Village alley where Toledo was shot, said a criminal case should have been pursued because “bringing charges allows the public to make a decision on a just verdict for these individuals. ... I’m disappointed that a jury of peers won’t be able to decide if the shooting is actually just or not.”
Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) said by not filing charges against the officers, it sends a message to the public “these kinds of practices have been normalized.”
“Operating like nothing happened will leave many people in the community, including myself, with great concern of other cases that happen like this. To see these practices being normalized without any accountability is a great concern,” Sigcho-Lopez said.
Others praised Foxx’s decision not to bring charges.
Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) said the state’s attorney made “100 percent the right decision” in both cases.
“Clearly, both Toledo and Alvarez had weapons. Police were in pursuit. And, unfortunately, those two individuals lost their lives. The officers didn’t do it with malice. They did it chasing people who were armed running through our communities,” Lopez said.
John Catanzara, who heads the Fraternal Order of Police, said there “should have been a much more rapid path” to Foxx’s decision and said it was clear to experts on the use of force that the shootings were justified.
“Sadly, [the officers] had this hanging over their heads for a year,” he said.
Contributing: Frank Main