I watched the video several times of a Chicago police officer fatally shooting 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Little Village, and I doubt the video will change any minds.
Those who blame Black and Latino youth for the city’s rise in crime will see a policeman who was doing the dangerous work of getting illegal guns off the street.
They will say: “The police officer was doing his job. See. There was no foot on the boy’s neck like what happened in the George Floyd case. There were no 16 shots like in the Laquan McDonald case. There was no chokehold like in the Eric Garner case. If the boy had not run away, he would be alive today.”
And those who think police officers unfairly harass Black and Latino youth will look at Adam’s bloodied body and point to the gentle way Kenosha police handled 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse.
Rittenhouse, a white teen, carried a high-powered rifle in plain sight, in the midst of a protest last year without one police officer confronting him—even as bystanders warned them the teen had just shot three people, two of them fatally.
While Adam went to the morgue, Rittenhouse was allowed to go home to his mother.
Frankly, the bodycam video that shows a Chicago police officer pursuing Adam down an alley, and fatally shooting him, raised more questions than it answered.
It also shows why there should be no rush to judgment on either side.
For one thing, while it looked like the teen might have had a gun when he was running away from the police officer, I didn’t see a gun in either hand when the fatal shot was fired.
Did he drop the weapon or throw it away during the chase? When the police officer shouted: “Stop, stop right f***** now,” and Adam didn’t stop, did that give the police officer the right to discharge his weapon?
And when the officer yelled “Show me your f****** hands,” and Adam turned toward him with both hands visible, should that have ended the confrontation?
These are questions that the Civilian Office of Police Accountability will have to answer, and why there has to be a thorough investigation.
A couple of hours before the video’s release, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, became emotional talking about what she called the systemic failures that led to the deadly confrontation between the boy and a police officer in a dark alley in the middle of the night.
“We have to do more,” she kept saying—more to get rid of “too many damn guns” on our streets, and more to help children who have been traumatized.
“They experience that every day, every day. We’ve got to do things differently,” the mayor said as she pleaded with the city to remain calm after the video’s release.
The video likely did not give Adam’s family the answers they were looking for, but I hope it gave them some comfort knowing police and paramedics on the scene tried to save him.
“Stay with me. Look at me. Come on big guy, stay with me,” they said as paramedics worked in vain to keep him alive.
The video was heartbreaking.
In this place, at this time, it should not have come to this.