In the early hours of March 29, a police officer shot and killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood.
More than two weeks later, after conflicting reports from public officials about the incident and calls for the release of more information, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability released video footage and audio it had obtained during its investigation.
The timeline of what the police and authorities knew — and what they were telling the public — that follows is based on police bodycam video, 911 calls, ShotSpotter audio, and case reports, along with original reporting by the Chicago Sun-Times.
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On March 26, Adam’s mother, Elizabeth Toledo, reported him missing to the police. The next day, when police arrived to talk to her about her missing son, she said Adam had returned and police closed the file. Either later that evening or early March 28, Adam leaves home again.
Elizabeth Toledo didn’t report him missing again, police said.
Note: The time markers below are written in an hour:minute:second format, as the altercation lasted only seven and a half minutes.
Before Police Arrive
March 29, 2021
Around 2:35:00 a.m.
Note: This time is based on a camera from the Armor De Dios United Methodist Church which had an incorrect time of 4:24 a.m. This camera’s timestamp is incorrect by roughly 1 hour and 49 minutes.
Based on a video from a Little Village church, Adam and 21-year-old Ruben Roman are seen walking toward the corner of 24th Street and Sawyer Avenue, where police allege Roman fires shots at a target out of view. After the shots, Adam and Roman leave the scene.
A witness calls 911 saying he heard seven or eight shots fired in the 2300 block of South Sawyer Avenue and mentioning there was “a lot of commotion.”
A male and a female officer with the Chicago Police Department arrive on the scene.
Body-camera footage shows the male and female officers begin chasing Adam and Roman in an alley. At this point, there is no audio available from the officer’s bodycam.
The male officer knocks Roman to the ground, causing him to drop a pair of red gloves. The female officer then detains Roman.
Audio from the bodycams kicks in, and the male officer chasing Adam can be heard yelling at him to stop.
The male officer catches up to Adam, who appears to have stopped running near a gap in a fence between the alley and a parking lot behind Farragut Career Academy High School. The male officer points a strobe flashlight at the boy.
The male officer shouts, “Hands! Show me your f- - -ing hands!”
Bodycam footage shows Adam turning toward the officer with what appears to be a gun in his right hand at his side.
A security camera along the Lawndale Christian Health Center building captures video of Adam apparently tossing something behind a fence.
Adam raises his hands; he now appears unarmed. The male officer fires one bullet at Adam from a close distance. Adam falls to the ground.
The male officer walks towards Adam and radios for an ambulance.
“Look at me. Look at me. You all right? Where you shot?” the male officer says to Adam, who is unresponsive. The male officer lifts up Adam’s sweatshirt to look for a wound and tells Adam, “Stay with me.”
The male officer radios for someone to bring him a medical kit.
At the other end of the alley, the female officer cuffs Roman as more police arrive. Roman is searched.
The male officer describes Adam’s wounds to a group of newly arrived officers (just offscreen of his bodycam) as they prepare equipment including a chest seal, gloves and vacuum pack.
Police shout for Adam to stay awake as they prepare to resuscitate him.
The shooting officer tells the assisting officers he doesn’t feel a heartbeat and is going to begin CPR.
Police begin to perform CPR on Adam.
The female officer runs toward the location of the shooting.
The shooting officer walks away from the scene and his body camera shows what appears to be a gun on the other side of the fence from the shooting.
Officers receive a radio confirmation that an ambulance is heading their way as the shooting officer looks out at the parking lot.
The female officer asks the shooting officer, “Do you want to sit down?” and suggests getting some water. The shooting officer sits and then appears to become emotional and covers his face.
Paramedics arrive on the scene.
A police supervisor radios into officers on the scene to turn off their body cameras.
Roman was taken into custody and charged with resisting arrest, a misdemeanor. He was released from police custody a few hours later.
CPD spokesman Tom Ahern tweets about the shooting, the first official statement from police. In his tweets Ahern refers to it as an “armed confrontation” and shares a photo of a gun police say they recovered at the scene.
Officers observed two subjects in a nearby alley, one subject fled on foot which resulted in an armed confrontation. One subject shot and killed. 2nd subject in custody. Gun recovered on scene. COPA investigating. #ChicagoPolice pic.twitter.com/bn7o2deAGS— Tom Ahern (@TomAhernCPD) March 29, 2021
Adam’s body is removed by Allied Services and taken to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
The Sun-Times and other news outlets first write about the incident. Adam’s identity still isn’t known. Police said he was not carrying an ID or cellphone.
Wednesday, March 31
Two days after Adam was killed, police contacted his mother, Elizabeth Toledo, and asked for a photo of her son after they find a closed missing person’s report from the weekend, a police spokesman told the Sun-Times. A half hour later, they knocked on her door and asked her to come identify a body at the Cook County medical examiner’s office that matched her son’s description.
Toledo confirmed to authorities it was her son.
Thursday, April 1
The Cook County medical examiner’s office publicly identifies the victim in the shooting as Adam Toledo, and reveals that he was 13.
Police Supt. David Brown called the shooting a “tragedy” and referred to the “split-second decision to use deadly force.” He and Mayor Lori Lightfoot say video of the shooting should be released. The mayor says the family needs to be shown the footage before the public.
COPA says initially it is prevented from publicly releasing videos involving a juvenile but says in a statement later that evening that officials were “making every effort and researching all legal avenues that will allow for the public release of all video materials which capture the tragic fatal shooting.”
Monday, April 5
At a press conference, Lightfoot, who says she hasn’t seen the videos but says they were described to her, repeatedly says Adam had a gun and blames the adult who gave it to him. “An adult put a gun in a child’s hand. ... A weapon that could and did irreparably change the course of his life,” the mayor says.
Wednesday, April 7
Judge Timothy Chambers issues an arrest warrant for Roman after he doesn’t show for a court hearing in connection to a 2019 gun case.
Friday, April 9
Roman is taken back into custody after police allegedly find him hiding in a closet in a building in west suburban Maywood.
Adam, a seventh-grader at Gary Elementary School, is laid to rest in a private ceremony.
Saturday, April 10
During a bail hearing for Roman, James Murphy, a Cook County prosecutor, says Adam had a gun in his hand before police shot him. Roman is charged with felonies including reckless discharge of a firearm, unlawful use of a weapon, child endangerment and violating probation.
Murphy says in a proffer that the Ruger 9mm handgun found near Adam had previously been used by Roman. The prosecutor further says: “The officer tells [Adam] to drop it as [Adam] turns towards the officer. [Adam] has a gun in his right hand.”
Murphy says after Adam was shot once by the officer, “[t]he gun that [Adam] was holding landed against the fence a few feet away.”
Tuesday evening, April 13
The Toledo family is shown video of the shooting. COPA says it plans to make video public soon.
Thursday, April 15
The Cook County state’s attorney’s office says prosecutor James Murphy had “failed to fully inform himself” before Ruben’s weekend court hearing when Murphy said Adam had a gun in his hand at the time of the shooting.
During a news conference at City Hall Lightfoot says “Simply put, we failed Adam. And we cannot afford to fail one more young person in our city . . . We must do more to help children like Adam before they end up in encounters like this one.”
Adeena Weiss Ortiz, an attorney for the Toledo family says “If you’re shooting an unarmed child with his arms in the air, it’s an assassination,”
Video is released of the shooting to the public.
Friday, April 16
Cook County Prosecutor James Murphy is placed on administrative leave because the state’s attorney’s office says he “failed to fully present the facts,” the state’s attorney’s office said.