No criminal charges against Chicago Police officers in fatal shootings of 13-year-old Adam Toledo and Anthony Alvarez
State’s Attorney Kim Foxx made the announcement Tuesday almost a year after Chicago police officers shot and killed Toledo and Alvarez in separate incidents.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said Tuesday she will not file criminal charges against Chicago Police officers in the deaths of 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez, although she still had harsh words for the actions by police leading up to the shootings.
Foxx made the announcement almost a year after the officers shot and killed Toledo and Alvarez in separate incidents last March.
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“This is a somber announcement. There are no winners in this situation,” Foxx said at a media conference at the Cook County Administration Building downtown.
While Foxx said while her office’s investigation and a review by an outside agency found no evidence to support criminal charges in either incident, she was still critical of the actions by officers — particularly in the Alvarez pursuit — that “created the conditions” that led to his shooting.
Both deaths sparked outrage over police use of force, with calls for a moratorium on police foot pursuits. Toledo’s death also prompted protests around the city. Last month, the Chicago Police Department unveiled an updated foot pursuit policy designed to prevent similar police shootings.
Adam Toledo shooting
Officer Eric Stillman shot the 13-year-old in the chest after chasing the teen down an alley in Little Village on March 29, Foxx said in a detailed account of the shooting.
When officers arrived to investigate a Shotspotter alert, Toldeo was walking down the alley with 22-year-old Ruben Roman, and both ran, Foxx said.
“As Adam ran, his hands were near his waistband,” Foxx said. “Officer Stillman believed that Adam had a gun. After running nearly a full block in the alley, Officer Stillman saw a gun in Adam’s right hand and shouted at him to drop it.”
Adam began turning towards Stillman “with his left hand raised up in front of his body and his right hand lowered at his side” near a wooden fence post in the alley Foxx said.
“Almost simultaneously,” Adam tossed the gun and turned toward the officer with his right hand raised “which no longer held the firearm” and Stillman fired a single shot, Foxx said.
“The timing of these actions was within 1 second,” Foxx said. “To be precise, it was estimated to be 838 milliseconds.”
Adam crumpled to the ground, and the officer called for an ambulance and performed CPR, the video showed.
“Officer Stillman reacted to the perceived threat presented by Adam Toledo who he believed at the time was turning toward him to shoot him,” Foxx said.
Stillman said he only fired the one shot because he then saw that Adam’s hand was empty, Foxx said.
“Based on the facts, the evidence and the law, we found that there’s no evidence to prove that Officer Stillman acted with criminal intent,” Foxx said, though she added that the officer may have violated CPD’s chase policy.
Family disappointed by Foxx’s decision
Adam’s family said in a statement they were “disappointed” with Foxx’s decision and would contact the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division “to address this horrific travesty.”
There has been no sign either officer will face federal charges.
Toledo’s family is also seeking more than $50,000 in a civil lawsuit, according to court documents filed Tuesday.
“We will continue fighting for Adam and have filed our civil complaint seeking monetary damages against Officer Stillman and the city of Chicago in our effort to get justice for Adam and the Toledo family,” the statement read.
The complaint alleges Stillman shined a strobe light mounted to his gun at Toledo while telling him to stop and show his hands. In doing so, the officer “failed to issue clear, direct commands that would have de-escalated and slowed down the situation,” the complaint states.
Even though Stillman radioed for medical assistance, he didn’t immediately provide lifesaving aid, the complaint states.
“Instead, while Adam laid on the ground bleeding out in agony, Stillman kneeled over him for more than one minute, and prior to initiating CPR failed to apply a chest seal in order to stop the flow of blood,” according to the complaint.
Officers had to ‘defend themselves,’ lawyer says
Tim Grace, an attorney representing Stillman, had not seen the suit and didn’t comment on its claims.
But Grace, who also represents Officer Eric Solano, who shot Alvarez, said he’s pleased that prosecutors recognized “the difficult job Chicago police officers have” and that cops don’t have to be fired upon to use deadly force.
Grace noted that Toledo and Alvarez were both armed and that his clients “unfortunately had to defend themselves.” Grace insisted that Toledo and Alvarez simply needed to “drop the guns.”
The Toledo family’s suit also accuses the city of a “years-long failure to address deficiencies in CPD’s policies and training on the use of force and foot pursuits.”
The family said they will continue “to call for peace on the streets of Chicago as they pursue justice through the court system.”
Police did not comment on Foxx’s statements critical of the force or the lawsuit’s accusations against the city Tuesday.
Anthony Alvarez shooting
Two days after the Toledo shooting, Alvarez was shot by Solano during a foot chase with officers in Portage Park.
Through Foxx said she didn’t believe there was evidence to bring charges against Solano, she criticized the officers’ actions at length, saying it was their “escalation of events that gets us to our final conclusion.”
Alvarez was approached by officers in their squad car at a gas station in the 3500 block of North Laramie Avenue a day after the officers had tried to arrest him during a traffic stop that he fled, Foxx said.
“Officer Solano activated the squad’s emergency lights, after which Anthony Alvarez dropped the bag of food he was holding, as well as the drink he was carrying and fled on foot,” Foxx said.
Solano drove after Alvarez “illuminating him with their spotlight as he ran and held his waistband.”
When Alvarez ran into a gangway, the officers got out of their car and chased after him on foot, according to Foxx.
“As Mr. Alvarez turned west onto the front yard of a home, he slipped and fell to the ground,” Foxx said. Alvarez “had his cell phone in his left hand and a handgun in his right hand as he tried to regain his footing and slipped yet a second time.”
Solano caught up to Alvarez as he was using both hands to push himself off the ground “and observed Mr. Alvarez in a crouching position with a gun in his right hand,” Foxx said. Solano believed Alvarez “was waiting to ambush him, as he did not observe Mr. Alvarez slip and fall,” she said.
Solano immediately drew his gun and ordered Alvarez to drop his, but Alvarez continued to run.
As he ran, Alvarez looked back at the officer with the gun in his hand, leading Solano to fire five shots while “veering to the left away from Mr. Alvarez,” Foxx said.
Alvarez was shot twice — in the back and thigh — and ran to the front steps of a home, dropping the gun and falling to the ground. Solano’s partner called in their location and his partner began giving aid, but Alvarez was pronounced dead after being taken to a hospital.
Foxx said her office considered first-degree and second-degree murder charges against Solano, but said she believed there wasn’t evidence to support those charges, citing state law that allows officers to use force if they reasonably believed they are in danger at the time of the shooting.
However, Foxx said, she believed “the officers themselves created the conditions which the use of deadly force became necessary.”
Foxx was critical of both officers’ decision to pursue Alvarez, noting Solano’s partner had called out to Alvarez by name during the chase.
“The officers were aware of Mr. Alvarez’s home address and could have sought to contact him there,” Foxx said.
Foxx said it was “unnecessary for the officer to stop and engage” with Alvarez who was “not committing any crimes that were readily apparent to the officers at the time.”
Foxx noted that the traffic stop the night before was during the pandemic and Alvarez “would not have been arrested” for those offenses.
Foxx said Solano appeared to not follow department policies during the pursuit, including not slowing down and looking before going around blind corners or waiting for his partner.
“These policy violations may have further exasperated the conditions that led to this deadly encounter,” Foxx said.
Foxx said she had spoken recently to Alvarez’s family, and that his family was “heartbroken.”
“They didn’t think the criminal court system would hold the officer accountable,” Foxx said. “ ... They seemed resigned to the decision my office made.”
Tania Dimitrova, an attorney for the Alvarez family, said in a statement they are “saddened and disappointed” by Foxx’s decision.
“Family members are committed in their efforts to bring justice for Anthony, which includes holding the Chicago Police officers involved in the shooting accountable for their actions,” Dimitrova said in a statement. “We hope that Kim Foxx and her office continues their investigation into the reckless and inexcusable conduct of Officer Evan Solano.”
Solano, who has been stripped of his police powers, began working as a probationary police officer with the department in 2015, and since his start has had nearly a dozen investigations launched into his actions from CPD’s Bureau of Internal Affairs and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, according to his personnel records obtained by the Sun-Times.
Solano was also the subject of an internal police probe after a viral video recorded last May showed him exiting a red Ford Mustang and confronting a man with his gun in Logan Square — an incident the Alvarez family said should be more closely scrutinized.
COPA concluded its investigation into the Alvarez shooting at the end of January and Police Supt. David Brown was expected to come to a decision on the officer’s status this month. Although Foxx said she was given reports from COPA on the Toledo shooting in mid-December, the agency’s investigation in Stillman, who remains on active duty, is ongoing.
Grace, the attorney for the officers, said although neither did anything wrong, the incidents were hard on the cops, too.
“I get that the Toledo family and the Alvarez family are in mourning over the loss of their loved ones,” he said. “And trust me, my officers are having a very difficult time having to come to grasp with the fact that they had to kill someone on the job.”