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Chicago Officials Say They Will Release The Bodycam Footage Of Adam Toledo's Killing


There's a vigil today in Chicago marking the death of 13-year-old Adam Toledo. He was shot to death one week ago today by a Chicago police officer. Patrick Smith of member station WBEZ reports.

PATRICK SMITH, BYLINE: The shooting death of Adam Toledo was captured on police body camera. It happened at about 2:30 in the morning last Monday in the alley right around where I'm standing now. Police say officers were responding to an alert about potential shots being fired here in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood. When they got there, police say, two people ran off. Officers chased. And then there was a, quote, "armed confrontation." One person was killed. Another was arrested. And police say they recovered a gun. It wasn't until three days later, last Thursday, that the public found out the person killed was a 13-year-old child.


ELIZABETH TOLEDO: I just want to know what really happened to my baby because shooting up - shooting like that - they could - they had a lot of options.

SMITH: Elizabeth Toledo is Adam Toledo's mother. She says her son was a happy kid who still played with Legos and Hot Wheels. The officer who killed him fired a single shot that hit Adam Toledo in the chest. Adeena Weiss-Ortiz is an attorney for the family.


ADEENA WEISS-ORTIZ: This child wanted to be an officer. And he was shot by the hands of another officer. The mother wants to know the truth of all facts surrounding the death of her son.

SMITH: Initially, city officials refused to release the body camera footage of the shooting, saying a state law meant to protect the privacy of children prevented it. Experts scoffed at that, and the city relented. Now the plan is to make the footage available to the public after the family has a chance to see it first, although it's still not clear exactly when that will happen.


DAVID BROWN: I want to thank Adam's mother and their family for the passionate call for peace during this difficult time.

SMITH: That's Police Superintendent David Brown, who says he watched the video yesterday but won't specify what it shows. He says he doesn't want to get ahead of the city agency investigating the shooting. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she has not watched the video and won't until the boy's family is able to see it. For years, activists and experts have said that the Chicago Police policy on foot chases needs to be changed because it can lead to unnecessary violent confrontations between police and citizens. And now that a 13-year-old boy is dead after a foot chase, Mayor Lightfoot promises a new policy before summer.


LORI LIGHTFOOT: Foot pursuits present a significant safety issue. Police get a call. Their adrenaline is pumping. And oftentimes, they get separated from their partner, so they're running on their own through a dense, often dark urban environment.

SMITH: Lightfoot doesn't say exactly what she wants in a new policy but says it will be based on input from officers and residents. At today's news conference, Pastor Matt DeMateo, whose church is just a few blocks from where Adam Toledo was killed, stood alongside his own 13-year-old son, who was in the same grade at the same elementary school as the victim.


MATT DEMATEO: Adam and his family lived a few blocks from our house. Adam was our neighbor. Adam was a 13-year-old child. Adam's life was taken one week ago today.

SMITH: With his young son at his side, Pastor DeMateo said the community wants justice, transparency and healing.

For NPR News, I'm Patrick Smith in Chicago. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Patrick Smith
Patrick Smith is a producer for WBEZ. He produces All Things Considered and reports on politics and criminal justice. Patrick joined WBEZ as an intern in 2013 and never left.

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