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‘Troubling’ video of police shooting of 13-year-old boy to be released ‘as soon as possible,’ authorities say, reversing previous stance

The public didn’t learn Adam Toledo’s identity and age until Thursday, four days after he was killed Monday in what police called an “armed confrontation.”

Elizabeth Toledo and son Adam are pictured in this family photo.
Elizabeth Toledo and her son Adam are pictured in this family photo.
Provided

Authorities on Friday said police body camera and other videos that captured an officer’s shooting of a 13-year-old could be released “as soon as possible” — reversing a previous statement — although they did not say when the footage would be made available.

Initially, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which investigates all police shootings, said state law prohibited the release since the shooting early Monday morning in Little Village involved a minor, who has been identified as Adam Toledo. But it later said it was reviewing the law, after Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Police Supt. David Brown and others called for the release.

“COPA has determined that certain provisions of state law intended to protect the confidentiality of juvenile records do not prohibit the agency’s release of material related to its investigation of a Chicago Police Officer’s fatal shooting of 13-year old Adam Toledo,” the agency said in a statement Friday. “COPA’s General Counsel concluded that the Juvenile Court Act does not bar publication of the body worn and third-party video camera footage the agency has obtained to date.”

The statement said COPA will follow “established city policy, which requires public posting of material at the earliest point possible but no later than 60 days after the incident.” It said officials were working with the Toledo family to arrange a viewing of the “troubling video footage.”

COPA spokesman Ephraim Eaddy said the video will be made public soon.

“As soon as possible, we’ll be looking to release it,” he said.

Boy first went missing last Friday

The announcement came as police on Friday released more information in an attempt to explain why authorities took days to identify Adam and release details of the shooting.

The public didn’t learn Adam’s identity and age until Thursday, days after he was killed in what police called an “armed confrontation.” Even Adam’s mother Elizabeth didn’t learn he had been killed until Wednesday, when she was asked to go to the Cook County medical examiner’s office and identify him.

Police spokesman Don Terry said his family first reported Adam missing last Friday, days before the shooting. But on Saturday, in a follow-up interview, detectives were told he had returned home safely, Terry said. Police then removed Adam from a missing persons database.

His family did not report him missing again, Terry said.

At 1 p.m. Wednesday, two days after the shooting, detectives attempting to identify the body — which had no ID — found the inactive missing report and contacted his mom at 1 p.m., believing the body may be Adam, Terry said. Adam’s mom then told police that he had been missing for a second time, and was last seen by her over the weekend, police said.

At 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, detectives then asked Adam’s mom to come to the morgue and identify Adam, Terry said.

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

Family still wants answers

Elizabeth Toledo on Friday said she was still waiting for more answers after her conversation with police on Wednesday, and said she was still waiting to learn when she can see the video.

“I haven’t heard nothing from the police department. They haven’t reached out to me,” Elizabeth Toledo said. “ ... I am kind of upset because I want to know what happened.”

Police initially said officers responded to reports of gunfire at 2:30 a.m. Monday and found Adam and a man in an alley to the west of the 2300 block of South Sawyer Avenue. An officer chased Adam, who police said was armed, and then shot him in the chest behind Farragut Career Academy High School. Police shared a photo of a gun allegedly recovered at the scene.

The other person who ran from police, 21-year-old Ruben Roman Jr. of Edgewater, was arrested and charged with resisting arrest, police said.

Toledo said she doesn’t know Roman Jr. and said her son had not previously been in trouble.

She said she was with her son all day Sunday and that he later spent time with his girlfriend, but that at some point that day her son left his girlfriend. The mother said his girlfriend also doesn’t know where Adam went in the hours before he was killed.

“We were both clueless,” Toledo said.

In a televised news conference Friday, Toledo asked why the officer opened fire if there was another way to apprehend Adam, who had four siblings.

“He was a little boy. Obviously he was going to get scared. Why did he [shoot] at him if they’re other ways?” she said.

$35,000 raised for boy’s family

Toledo has set up a GoFundMe page for memorial expenses.

“Another angel has gained his wings way too soon,” Toledo wrote on the page.

By 4 p.m. Friday, more than 1,200 donations totaling more than $35,000 had been pledged.

“I just wanted to thank everyone that donated and gave their support. I really appreciate that from the bottom of my heart,” she said. “On behalf of Adam Toledo, I’m very grateful for everyone helping me through this. It’s been so hard.”