© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
Public Files Contact · ATSC 3.0 FAQ
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Chicago Officers Must Now Give Medical Aid After A Police Shooting


The video footage of police killing 13-year-old Adam Toledo last week captured the violent end of that boy's life. It also showed a particular policy change in action, officers attempting to give medical aid after a shooting. Patrick Smith of member station WBEZ reports. And a warning - this piece includes some audio from the bodycam footage of Toledo's death

PATRICK SMITH, BYLINE: In the moments after Chicago police shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo, officers on the scene, including the one who fired the shot, immediately began trying to save the boy's life. In videos, officers can be seen giving the boy CPR and desperately calling for an ambulance. Within seconds of firing the fatal shot, Officer Eric Stillman started talking with Toledo.


ERIC STILLMAN: Where were you shot, man? Where were you shot? Stay with me. Stay with me.

UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER: All right, 10-4. We'll get an ambulance rolling.

STILLMAN: Somebody bring the medical kit now.

SMITH: Their life-saving efforts were urgent, but ultimately futile. It was a much different scene than one captured in Chicago's most infamous police shooting video, the 2014 killing of teenager Laquan McDonald. In that dashcam video, after McDonald had been shot repeatedly - 16 times - Chicago police officers stood around as McDonald lay in the road, never doing anything but kicking a knife out of his hand.

University of Chicago law professor Sharon Fairley used to run the Chicago agency that investigates police shootings. The incident that really sticks with her is the 2016 fatal shooting of 18-year-old Paul O'Neal, an unarmed man shot by Chicago police.

SHARON FAIRLEY: Young Paul O'Neal was shot, and he's lying on the ground. And they're just standing around waiting for the ambulance to show up, and they're not doing anything to help him.

SMITH: Fairley recommended police change policies and instruct officers to give medical aid after injuring someone. That ended up being a part of the Chicago police consent decree. A recent report by the Marshall Project found that most police departments across the country give first aid training to police recruits, and half require officers to provide aid whenever possible. Jonathan Smith used to investigate police departments at the U.S. Department of Justice and has been involved in about 20 consent decrees like the one in Chicago.

JONATHAN SMITH: The use of force is to advance some legitimate law enforcement purpose - to protect a third party, to protect the officer. And once that lawful objective is achieved, officers should do everything to protect the person from any further harm.

SMITH: When Sharon Fairley watched the body camera video from the Toledo shooting, the attempt to treat the boy's wound stood out to her immediately.

FAIRLEY: To see it being done here, it was a stark difference. And it's clear that that's a result of the policy change.

SMITH: Sheila Bedi is a Northwestern University law professor who also represents some Chicago activists.

SHEILA BEDI: I think that the next question really needs to be, is that enough? And is that what our teenagers are due - police officers shoot them and then engage in sort of the bare minimum of medical aid after they shoot them through the chest?

SMITH: Reverend Marvin Hunter, the great-uncle of Laquan McDonald, says when he watched the recent video, he noticed the officer showing empathy for another human being. But he says it still rings hollow.

MARVIN HUNTER: The policy changes that have taken place since the death of Laquan McDonald has amounted to putting a Band-Aid over a bullet wound.

SMITH: Hunter says the fact the Toledo shooting happened at all shows huge gaps remain before there's meaningful police reforms here.

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

Patrick Smith

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.