CHICAGO – Seventeen bodycam and four third-party videos have recently been released in the shooting of a 13-year-old boy from Little Village, Illinois, who lost his life in the wee hours of the morning on March 29, 2021.
Footage from a Little Village church shows the boy, Adam Toledo, and another person, Ruben Roman, 21, walking down the street. Out of view, Roman appears to fire gunshots as they stop at the corner of 24th Street and Sawyer Avenue. Chicago Police Supt. David Brown stated that officers were alerted and arrived in response to these gunshots.
Brown commented, “At approximately 2:36 a.m., ShotSpotter detected eight gunshots in the 2300 block of South Sawyer in the Little Village neighborhood.” He goes on to explain, “ShotSpotter is a gun detection system that operates through a series of sensors to identify potential gunshots. The system ShotSpotter alerts officers in real-time to the location of gunfire.” Officers arrived on the scene in less than a minute after being notified.
“When officers arrived in the 2300 block of South Sawyer they observed two males in a nearby alley. Both males fled.” Brown continues, “One was armed with a handgun. A foot pursuit ensued, which resulted in a confrontation in the alley.”
Roman allowed himself to be apprehended while Toledo fled on foot. Bodycam footage shows Officer Eric Stillman arriving at the scene, getting out of his vehicle, pushing past one person, and immediately beginning a foot chase after Toledo.
As Stillman catches up, he shouts at Toledo, “Hands! Show me your f—king hands! Drop it! Drop it!” Toledo turns to face the officer and raises his hand and is met with a beam from Stillman’s flashlight as a single gunshot is heard and Toledo collapses to the ground. The officer rushes to provide aid and calls for help, but Toledo dies on the scene from the bullet wound in his chest. Two different camera angles show that Toledo slowed down long enough to toss what appears to be a handgun behind a fence. The speed of Toledo turning did not allow Stillman to see his empty hands. Nineteen seconds elapse from the moment Officer Stillman exits his vehicle to the moment he pulled the trigger.
It took two days before Toledo’s family was notified of his death. Authorities were unable to identify his body as he wasn’t carrying identification, and Roman had given officers a false name. Police were finally able to make a connection and identify the body with a recent missing person report filed by Toledo’s mother.
Toledo’s mother filed the missing person report on March 26. It was closed the next day after Toledo’s return. Either late on March 27 or early March 28, Toledo left his home again. His mother, though unaware of her son’s whereabouts, did not report him missing again. Police noticed that the body matched the recent closed missing person file and reached out to her. She confirmed that it was indeed her son.
The Chicago-Sun Times reports that the area where Adam Toledo was shot is a stronghold of the Latin Kings street gang. John Catanzara, president of the Chicago Police Union, alleged that Toledo was a Latin Kings member.
Roman has been charged with felony reckless discharge of a firearm, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, and child endangerment. The police union has hired a lawyer to defend Officer Stillman, who has not been officially charged in the matter but has been placed on administrative leave for 30 days. The Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) is currently investigating the case and will send its recommendations on whether or not to punish the officers involved.