Is Chicago police union head right Adam Toledo shooting "100% justified?"
- On March 29, 13-year-old Hispanic Adam Toledo was shot by Officer Eric Stillman in an “armed confrontation.” In the video footage released Thursday, April 15, it appeared that Toledo had dropped a handgun and raised his hands “less than a second” before the officer fired his gun.
- Before the shooting, the city ShotSpotter alerted police to the West Side where they found and chased Toledo and 21-year-old-man, Ruben Roman. Roman was arrested on felony charges.
- On Thursday, Chicago Police Union President John Catanzara said the shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo was “justified” and mentioned the officer’s moves “heroic.”
- Stillman’s attorney, Tim Grace, said the officer had no choice but to shoot because the “juvenile had the gun in his right hand,” had “looked at the officer and began to turn to face the officer attempting to swing the gun in his direction.”
- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said “the video was excruciating to watch” and “simply put, we failed Adam.” Both the mayor and the Toledo family urged the public to remain peaceful.
Adam Toledo’s life was taken far too soon. No one is disputing that. A tragedy happened on March 29th, but John Catanzara, the head of the Chicago Police Union, is correct in his assessment that Officer Eric Stillman’s actions were “100 percent justified.”
The suspect, Toledo, was refusing to follow police commands. As Officer Stillman gave chase, he shouted “stop [expletive] now” and “show me your [expletive] hands.” Not only did Toledo continue running after being given the command to stop, but he also did not immediately show his hands.
Body cam footage reveals Toledo did, in fact, have a gun with him as Officer Stillman chased him down the dark alleyway. Right before the officer fired the single fatal shot, a handgun is seen in Toledo’s right hand. He appears to toss the gun behind a fence before turning back to face the officer. As he is raising his hands, he is shot. The gun is later seen in the bodycam footage on the ground.
Cantanzara addressed the fact that Toledo had already disposed of the gun when he was shot while on CNN with Chris Cuomo, saying, “Time-lapse photos show that the officer had 8/10ths of a second to determine if that weapon was still in his hands or not. There’s no way a rational person can say they can process that and their muscle reaction would be less than one second.” Toledo was a young man caught up in gang violence. His shooting is not an example of bad or racist policing. It’s an example of what happens when children are failed by society. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said, “we failed Adam.” She doesn’t even know how correct she is.
Although he may have attempted to flee, Adam Toledo had his hands up and had dropped his gun before Officer Stillman fired that fatal shot. The original story from officials called the incident an 'armed confrontation,' but body cam evidence showed Toledo to be unarmed when he was shot, leading Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to say that 'we failed Adam.' The head of the police union said, 'The offender was fleeing from the police with a weapon,' seeming to imply that such action alone would justify the killing. Regardless of what led to the chase and confrontation, police shouldn't be acting as 'judge, jury, and executioner.' As Jon Whitehead said in an article for The Rutherford Institute, when the police are allowed to act with such unchecked authority, they 'have become a law unto themselves.'
Furthermore, as YouTuber Beau of the Fifth Column points out, the officer was making improper use of his strobe light, which appears to have impaired his perception of the situation. As Beau explains, a strobe light used in this manner is 'incredibly disorienting to the person it is being shined at,' but also 'limits the ability of the person using it.' He explains that devices such as this weren't developed for the kinds of uses they are being put to by police departments and that using them for situations other than their intended purposes doesn't usually lead to good results, to put it mildly. Quite contrary to what the police union head said, this shooting seems to have been entirely unjustified.