Adam Toledo shooting: Chicago cop who fatally shot teen will face full evidentiary hearing
CHICAGO - A police officer now faces dismissal in the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo after a single Chicago Police Board member ruled against the objection of Chicago’s top cop during a meeting Thursday night.
Early on March 29, 2021, Officer Eric Stillman chased Toledo into an alley in Little Village and fired a single shot into the teenager’s chest, a split-second after the teen dropped a handgun and raised his hands.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, the city’s police oversight agency, recommended Stillman be discharged from the department, saying he "acted inconsistently" with department foot-pursuit training policy and committed an improper use of deadly force.
Police Supt. David Brown disagreed with the recommendation, but he agreed with COPA’s finding that Stillman had violated policy by failing to activate his body camera. Brown recommended that Stillman be suspended for a period of no more than five days.
Police board President Ghian Foreman settled the dispute Thursday, ruling in favor of COPA. The board will now hold a disciplinary hearing where all eight members will decide Stillman’s fate.
"It is my opinion, based on thorough reviews of the material, the parties and the public will benefit from a full evidentiary hearing on this matter, and so referring this matter for a hearing before the police board is the appropriate next step," Foreman said in making his decision.
Tim Grace, Stillman’s attorney, said in a statement that he was "extremely disappointed" with the decision.
"The Cook County state’s attorney’s office investigated this case and correctly concluded that the use of force by Officer Stillman was proper and consistent with Illinois law," Grace said. "The members of the Chicago Police Department are asked to work under amazingly difficult circumstances, yet still come to work each day to protect the citizens from the gun-wielding offenders who terrorize our City. Adam Toledo’s death is a tragedy, but a tragedy that was caused by the gang he chose to associate with. His death was due to that association, not by the actions of Officer Stillman."
Attorneys Adeena Weiss Ortiz and Joel Hirschhorn, who represent the Toledo family, thanked COPA for "uncovering the truth of what transpired that fateful evening."
"We are grateful that the Chicago Police Board’s independent reviewer concluded that the Chicago Police Superintendent’s objections were insufficient to overcome COPA’s conclusion that the officer who shot and killed Adam be discharged from the Chicago Police Department," they said in a statement.
COPA chief administrator Andrea Kersten said in a statement afterward, "As I’ve said before, this is not about winning or losing, but about facts, evidence and testimony being presented before the full police board before a final decision is determined.
"Impacted parties and the residents of the city of Chicago deserve to have all the facts and evidence presented in a full, public hearing, and we believe this case is deserving of a full evidentiary hearing before the entire police board and a review of the rules governing this process is warranted," she said.
Toledo’s death sparked widespread community outrage, compounded by the fatal police shooting of 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez just two days later.
On March 31, 2021, Alvarez was near a gas station at Addison Street and Laramie Avenue when Officer Evan Solano and his partner — who had encountered Alvarez the night before — turned on their emergency lights and started a pursuit.
During the pursuit, Solano saw Alvarez holding a gun in the 5200 block of West Eddy Street and ordered him to drop it. Then Solano opened fire.
Both shootings were captured on body-worn police cameras and happened during foot chases, prompting police officials to hurriedly implement a new policy governing such pursuits.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced March 15 that neither officer would face criminal charges. "There are no winners in this situation," Foxx told reporters, while criticizing the officers’ actions.
Solano faced a similar disciplinary hearing July 21 and was allowed to keep his job. Rebuffing COPA’s recommendation to fire Solano, police board member Steven Block backed Brown’s decision to instead suspend Solano for 20 days.
Block wrote in a 31-page ruling that Solano’s use of force was "objectively reasonable, necessary, and proportional in order to ensure his own safety and the safety of his partner."
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Grace represented Solano and hoped for a similar outcome for Stillman.
In a detailed account of the Toledo shooting, Foxx explained that officers responded to a ShotSpotter alert and saw Toledo and 22-year-old Ruben Roman run off.
"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 toward 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 as 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."
When Toledo fell to the ground, Stillman called for an ambulance and performed CPR, the bodycam footage showed. Foxx noted that Stillman "reacted to the perceived threat presented by Adam Toledo, who he believed at the time was turning toward him to shoot him."
Toledo’s family has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Stillman and the city of Chicago. But Weiss Ortiz pushed for a swifter form of accountability, insisting the officer is guilty of breaking a litany of departmental rules.