Law & the Courts

Chicago Police Union Head Says Shooting of 13-Year-Old ‘100 Percent Justified’

Adam Toledo holds up his hands before he was shot by police in Chicago, Ill., March 29, 2021. (Civilian Office of Police Accountability/Handout via Reuters )

The head of Chicago’s police union backed the officer involved in the shooting death of 13-year-old Adam Toledo, in an interview on CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time on Thursday.

Police released security and body camera footage of the incident in Chicago‘s Little Village, sparking calls for protests. During the incident, officers responded to a shots-fired call, and officer Eric Stillman chased Toledo into an alleyway in the neighborhood. Footage appears to show Toledo placing a gun behind a fence, then turning towards Stillman and putting his hands in the air.

Chicago Police Union president John Catanzara told host Chris Cuomo that Stillman’s actions were “justified” given the circumstances of the shooting.

“Time-lapse photo shows that that officer had eight-tenths of a second to determine if that weapon was still in [Toledo’s] hand or not, period. There’s no way a rational person can say they can process that and their muscle reaction would be less than one second,” Catanzara said.

“I started my dissertation by saying it is 100 percent justified. That officer’s actions were actually heroic,” he said later. “There’s a very good reason he only shot once. Like I said, he could have been shot multiple times but the officer assessed in a split second. Unfortunately, he already committed to the first shot, justifiably so.”

After firing the first shot, Stillman ceased fire and gave first aid to Toledo along with other officers, however Toledo was subsequently declared dead at the scene. Catanzara said he could not immediately confirm whether the gun Toledo allegedly placed behind the fence was involved in the shooting which prompted a police response.

Adeena Weiss Ortiz, an attorney for Toledo’s family, emphasized that Toledo did not have a gun in his hand when Stillman shot him.

“If he had a gun, he tossed it….The officer said, ‘show me your hands,’ [and Toledo] complied,” she said. The officer “is trained to not shoot somebody unarmed. He is trained to look, he is trained not to panic.”

Toledo’s family and city officials released a joint statement calling for “peaceful” responses to the shooting.

“We acknowledge that the release of this video is the first step in the process toward the healing of the family, the community and our city,” the statement said. “We understand that the release of this video will be incredibly painful and elicit an emotional response to all who view it, and we ask that people express themselves peacefully.”

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.


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