13-Year-Old Adam Toledo Had No Gun In His Hand, Got Killed By Chicago Police Anyway

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In the early hours of March 29, police officer Eric Stillman shot and killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago.

Police initially claimed that this was the tragic end result of an "armed confrontation" and that Toledo had a gun in his hand and that Stillman had to make a split second decision to shoot the boy in order to save his own life.

On Thursday, the body cam footage of the incident was released and to absolutely no one's surprise, that does not appear to be what happened at all. Whatever Toledo may have had in his hands, he dropped it before raising them in the air, as he was instructed.


Via The New York Times:

Adeena Weiss Ortiz, a lawyer representing the Toledo family, said at a news conference on Thursday that the video shows that Adam, who was Latino and a seventh grader at Gary Elementary School, was attempting to comply with the officer's orders.

"He tossed the gun," she said. "If he had a gun, he tossed it. The officer said, 'Show me your hands.' He complied. He turned around."

The key events took place in a matter of one second. In an analysis, The New York Times slowed down the police video, as well as another of the 21 videos released by the authorities.

As the officer, identified in police reports as Eric E. Stillman, 34, fires the single shot, Adam is raising his arms and appears to be empty-handed. In the moment before the shooting, The Times's analysis shows, Adam can be seen holding what appears to be a gun behind his back, which he drops behind a wooden fence just before he raises his hands.

He dropped the gun. He was told to drop the gun and he dropped the gun. He put his hands up in the air. He was shot and killed anyway.

Eventually, this is going to create a problem for Chicago police and for police all over. If people cannot trust that if they put their hands up in the air that they will live, if they cannot trust that if a seventh grader drops the gun they are holding that they will live, what actual reason do they have to do either of those things? If they know that, more than likely, the police officer does not have much incentive not to kill them, given how rarely they actually end up facing consequences for unjust killings.

These officers are creating an environment in which the best chance someone stuck in this situation has of survival is killing the police officer telling them to put their hands up and drop their gun. And that's not a real good thing for the officers who actually wouldn't shoot a 13-year-old with their hands up. They can't complain that people don't trust them when they are doing this regularly, they can't complain about people "not complying" when "complying" does not necessarily keep anyone from being murdered by police.

[The New York Times]

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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