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Chicago to release video of police shooting 13-year-old boy

15 April 2021 - 20:58 By Reuters
Adam Toledo was shot in the chest by an unidentified police officer at about 2:30 a.m. local time on March 29 2020.
Adam Toledo was shot in the chest by an unidentified police officer at about 2:30 a.m. local time on March 29 2020.
Image: 123RF/Pop Nukoonrat

Chicago's police accountability office was expected on Thursday to release to the public body-camera video footage showing a police officer shooting and killing a 13-year-old boy in an alley more than two weeks ago.

Adam Toledo was shot in the chest by an unidentified police officer at about 2:30 a.m. local time on March 29 in Little Village, a neighborhood in the city’s West Side, the Chicago Police Department said.

Police said Toledo was armed with a handgun. Officers were chasing him and another man after they received notification of shots fired in the area, the department said.

"There were a number of forces that met up at two thirty in the morning on March 29 in an alley and, simply put, we failed Adam," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said during a news conference ahead of release of the video.

The incident, along with this week's fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright outside of Minneapolis and the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on charges of killing George Floyd, has flared tensions in Chicago.

"Chicago, as well as way too many parts of our country, has a long legacy of police violence and police misconduct that have left far too many residents, especially those who are Black and brown, in a constant state of fear and pain," Lightfoot said.

City officials are urging protesters to remain calm as they prepare for civil unrest when the video footage is released. They said more police officers and city equipment will be in place to protect businesses during the possible unrest, especially after the city saw riots and looting in the aftermath of the Floyd incident.

The city's Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) said it will release police body-worn camera footage, third-party video and other materials related to the incident on Thursday.

"COPA’s core values of integrity and transparency are essential to building public trust, particularly in incidents related to an officer involved shooting, and we are unwavering in our commitment to uphold these values," the office said in a statement.

In a statement released last week, the agency described it as "troubling video footage."

Toledo's family said in a statement released to local media that they appreciated the support they had gotten from the community and were grateful that protests in Chicago over the last few days remained peaceful.

“We pray that for the sake of our city, people remain peaceful to honor Adam’s memory and work constructively to promote reform," the family said.

As communities nationwide face a reckoning over police violence, the shooting has renewed calls for police reforms in the third largest U.S. city. Chicago police have been under intense scrutiny since 2014 when a white officer shot and killed a Black teenager. He was later convicted of second-degree murder.

A video of that incident led to a U.S. Justice Department investigation that found Chicago police routinely violated people’s civil rights, used excessive force and racially discriminated against people.

Lightfoot said illegal guns play a "cancerous role" across Chicago, which saw 769 homicides in 2020, a 50 percent increase from 2019. She demanded more to be done by the federal government to help quell the gun violence in Chicago, noting the trauma it causes young people.

"We got to do things differently to change around their fortunes. We owe it to them to do better," she said as her voice cracked.