More than a dozen Latino leaders gathered at the Pilsen Law Center Tuesday to call on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the fatal shooting by a Chicago police officer of 13-year-old Adam Toledo and for new policies to stop future acts of police violence.
“The killing of Adam Toledo at the hands of the police brings to the forefront the pressing need to address the Chicago police enforcement policies and practices in the Latino community,” attorney Arturo Jáuregui, said, reading from a joint statement. “Latinos, like their African American neighbors, have always been on the receiving end of poorly conceived police law enforcement policies and practices.”
Jáuregui was joined by members of the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois and the American Bar Association’s Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities. Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22nd) and leaders of some nonprofit groups also attended to show support.
The group called on U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to conduct an investigation into the “circumstances that led to and resulted in” Adam’s death and provided three points the probe should focus on:
• The DOJ should help “establish clear procedures and policies” outlining when a police officer should engage in a foot pursuit and set rules for disciplining officers who don’t follow those newly outline procedures.
Jáuregui said current foot pursuit guidelines are “confusing at best.”
CPD already is operating under a court-ordered consent decree that requires hundreds of reforms to police practices, including foot chases. The latest report from an independent monitor said the department is close to complying with those requirements for foot chases, including better training and tracking foot pursuits that end in the use of force.
• The DOJ should help develop oversight on how police officers interact with children — especially when lethal force is used. This, Jáuregui said, will stop future cases like Adam’s death.
“The police video of the shooting in Adam’s case shows a terrified 13-year-old boy running from the police, disposing of what appears to be a gun and then complying with the officer’s commands,” Jáuregui said. “Yet he was shot in the chest and died in the alley less than a minute after being shot.”
• Lastly, the DOJ should help establish policies under which an officer can engage in a car chase in densely populated neighborhoods.
They also want the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to determine if Adam’s constitutional rights were violated — and, Jáuregui said, for people in Chicago to “stop vilifying Adam and the Toledo family.” He called out CPD, the Fraternal Order of Police and the media specifically.
Federico Rodriguez, a member of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities, condemned some criticisms of Adam and his family that have been spread on social media, such as people wondering why he wasn’t home at that time.
“The problem here is we need to create these opportunities for these young people by calling upon the powers that be to give us the funds necessary,” Rodriguez said.
Adam was killed by a police officer on March 29 after officers were responding to a ShotSpotter gunshot detector alert. Police body camera videos of the fatal incident were released to the public last week, prompting over 1,000 people to protest against police brutality in Logan Square last week.
On Sunday, a peaceful march kicked off at Farragut High School, 2345 S. Christiana Ave., next to the alley where Adam was killed. Hundreds of people gathered there to condemn police violence.
Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22nd), whose ward covers most of Little Village, though not where Adam was killed, said increased investment in communities like Little Village will do more to keep children off the streets.
“Many of you were there on our peace march Sunday where you saw a field at Farragut High School that was dilapidated, that needs significant resources,” Rodriguez said. “Our schools need increased resources, more social workers and investments, and teachers and social workers in our neighborhoods.”