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Prosecutors: Adam Toledo, 13, had gun in his hand when Chicago police fatally shot him

In the most detailed statement yet by authorities on the shooting, prosecutors said the police officer had repeatedly told Adam to drop the gun before the boy was shot.

A picture of Adam Toledo is taped to a pole at the corner of 24th St. and Spaulding Ave. in the Little Village neighborhood.
A picture of Adam Toledo is taped to a pole at the corner of 24th St. and Spaulding Ave. in the Little Village neighborhood.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

UPDATE: The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office on April 15 said a prosecutor who spoke in court about the shooting of Adam Toledo wrongly said Adam had a gun in his hand when he was shot. The office said the prosecutor “failed to fully inform himself before speaking in court. Errors like that cannot happen and this has been addressed with the individual involved.” Read an updated story here.

Thirteen-year-old Adam Toledo had a gun in his hand and had been repeatedly ordered to drop it before police fatally shot him, Cook County prosecutors said Saturday in the most detailed statement from authorities on the shooting.

Prosecutors described police bodycam footage of the shooting — expected to be released next week — during a bail hearing for 21-year-old Ruben Roman, who had been with Adam and allegedly fired the gunshots that drew officers to the Little Village scene last month.

Adam was holding the gun — that had previously been fired by Roman — when Adam was shot in the chest by a police officer, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said. The officer had repeatedly told Adam to drop the gun before police shot him, Murphy said.

“If [Roman] does not bring [Adam] with him at 2:30 in the morning, if he doesn’t bring his gun with him while on gun offender probation, if he doesn’t shoot that gun seven or eight times on a city street with [Adam] standing right next to him . . . and then fleeing with that gun, none of this would have happened,” Murphy said.

Roman now faces felony charges of reckless discharge of a firearm and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, as well as child endangerment and violating probation.

Prosecutors said nearby surveillance video captured the moment Roman fired shots early on the morning of March 29 at a passing vehicle while Adam stood next to him at 24th Street and Sawyer Avenue.

After firing the shots, Roman ran north with Adam on Sawyer and ducked into an alley near 23rd Street, where officers spotted them about a minute later, Murphy said.

One officer tackled Roman and knocked loose a pair of red gloves that were later found to have gunshot residue on them, Murphy said.

The other officer continued to chase Adam, who eventually stopped with his left side facing the officer near a break in a wooden fence in the alley, Murphy said, citing the officer’s bodycam footage. The officer repeatedly told Adam to “drop it,” Murphy said.

When Adam — who allegedly had the gun in his right hand — turned toward the officer, the officer shot him in the chest, Murphy said.

The officer called for an ambulance and began performing chest compressions on Adam, but Adam was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after.

Prosecutors indicated the Ruger 9 mm handgun that fell from Adam’s hand had previously been used by Roman. It matched the seven shell casings that were later recovered at the site where Roman fired the initial shots, Murphy said.

Adam’s hand later tested positive for gunshot residue as well, prosecutors said.

The approximate location where Chicago police killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo, in an alley way near 24th and Sawyer.
The approximate location where Chicago police killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo, in an alley way near 24th and Sawyer.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

After the shooting, Roman was initially charged with a misdemeanor count of resisting arrest. An arrest warrant was issued last week after Roman skipped a court date, and he was found Friday in Maywood hiding in a closet, Murphy said.

Murphy also said that when detectives questioned Roman about Adam’s identity, Roman gave them a fake name. He denied knowing Adam or firing any shots and claimed he was in the alley “waiting for a train,” Murphy said.

Assistant Public Defender Courtney Smallwood rejected Murphy’s claims that Roman was endangering Adam, saying there was no proof that the gun belonged to Roman, that he was wearing the red gloves that tested positive for gunshot residue or that he even brought Adam outside with him in the first place.

“The victim is dead at the hands of the Chicago police officers, not my client,” Smallwood said.

She said Roman left high school in his junior year but recently enrolled in a GED program and was waiting on several job opportunities after being unemployed for the last two months.

Judge Susana Ortiz ordered Roman jailed on $150,000 bail. He is due back in court April 19.

Adam’s funeral was held Friday.

Attorneys for the Toledo family said they watched the hearing Saturday but declined to comment, stating they had not yet seen video of the shooting nor examined evidence in the case.

The Toledo family is expected to view it early next week before it’s released publicly, officials have said. Chicago police leaders have canceled days off for officers next week as they prepare for possible demonstrations upon the release of the shooting video.

“Transparency always matters, particularly in something as significant as a police-involved shooting,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at an unrelated Saturday morning news conference. “I think it will only help disabuse a lot of urban myths that have sprung up in the void, but I want to be clear: from what’s been described to me, it is going to be a very tough video for people to watch.”