Chicago, IL – Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she has ordered the Chicago Police Department (CPD) to figure out who gave a handgun to the 13-year-old boy who was shot by an officer on March 29.
Lightfoot said she has also demanded police apprehend the person who provided the teen with the weapon and bring them to justice, according to the Associated Press.
The mayor assured the public during a press conference on April 5 that the city of Chicago will “use every resource” to figure out where the gun came from and how it ended up in 13-year-old Adam Toledo’s hands.
Lightfoot said the teen had fallen victim to the gang lifestyle, WLS reported.
“We will not tolerate [gangs] using our children pawns and setting them up for a life of misery,” she said during the press conference. “Here is where we must, must draw the line.”
“I am determined,” Lightfoot added. “We will find the person who put this gun in Adam’s hand. We will not be deterred by threats from gang members. An adult must be responsible for putting that gun in that child’s hand.”
The Toledo family’s attorney released a statement noting that the family sought “to correct the hurtful and false mischaracterization of Adam as a lonely child of the street who had no one to turn to,” WLS reported.
“This is simply not true,” the statement read. “Adam was a loved and supported 13-year-old boy. He lived with his mother, his 90-year-old grandfather, and two of his siblings. His father was in his life. They all loved him very much… Adam was not alone.”
Lightfoot said on Monday she has ordered the CPD to immediately review its foot pursuit policy, WLS reported.
Authorities say that the teen, who was carrying a gun, was fatally shot in the chest by a CPD officer during a confrontation in the alley west of the 2300-block of South Sawyer Avenue at approximately 2:30 a.m. on March 29, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Shortly after her son’s death, Elizabeth Toledo told reporters he often snuck out of their home and that she ended up filing a missing person’s report on him after he took off again on March 25, WLS reported.
She said Adam Toledo returned home two days later, but that he was gone again by the night of March 28.
Elizabeth Toledo did not report him as missing on that occasion, according to police.
TCPD was responding to a ShotSpotter alert at approximately 2:35 a.m. on March 29, when they encountered two males, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
One of the males, later identified as Adam Toledo, was armed with a handgun and took off running, according to police.
Video from the incident showed Toledo with a gun in his hand, then he tossed it out of view of the officer less than a second before he was shot once by the officer.
He died from his wounds at the scene, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Officers observed two subjects in a nearby alley, one subject fled on foot which resulted in an armed confrontation. One subject shot and killed. 2nd subject in custody. Gun recovered on scene. COPA investigating. #ChicagoPolice pic.twitter.com/bn7o2deAGS
— Tom Ahern (@TomAhernCPD) March 29, 2021
Elizabeth Toledo identified her son at the morgue two days later, according to the paper.
Critics blasted the CPD for not notifying Elizabeth Toledo about her son’s death immediately after it happened, but CDP Superintendent David Brown explained on Monday that they initially had no way of knowing who the teen was, WMAQ reported.
“At the time, Adam had no identification on him,” Superintendent Brown said. “The 21-year-old man who was with him, and was arrested for resisting, provided a different name from Adam, gave a false, phony name…we lost considerable time trying to identify Adam because of the wrong name.”
Police fingerprinted the teen three times, but couldn’t match his prints to any records they had, WMAQ reported.
Although Adam Toledo had been reported as missing in the past, he hadn’t been reported missing after he took off on March 28, so the CPD had no way of knowing they should be looking for him, Superintendent Brown said.
When the teen didn’t match up with any of their open missing persons cases, the CPD reached out to surrounding jurisdictions and also began looking into past missing persons cases in which the individuals had returned home, WMAQ reported.
While combing through those closed reports, they discovered the prior missing person report on Adam Toledo and contacted his mother to notify her that the subject of the closed report she had made “matched an unidentified person in the morgue,” Superintendent Brown said.
That’s when Elizabeth Toledo “told detectives her son had returned home and then left again, either late on March 27 or early on March 28, and she had not seen him in several days,” the superintendent told reporters.
The second suspect who fled from officers during the encounter was identified as 21-year-old Ruben Roman.
He was arrested on a charge of misdemeanor resisting arrest, WLS reported.
According to court records, Roman was previously convicted of illegal gun possession and was sentenced to probation in 2019, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
CPD issued an officer safety alert on April 1 after narcotics investigators discovered that factions of the Latin Kings street gang had been “instructed by ranking members to shoot at unmarked Chicago police vehicles.”
The CPD said the order was allegedly given in retaliation for the officer-involved shooting death of Adam Toledo, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
The department warned in the alert that the Latin Kings members would likely shoot at unmarked police units.
The alert did not specify why the gang would want to retaliate for Adam Toledo’s death.
The CPD declined to comment on the safety alert, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Adeena Weiss Ortiz, the attorney representing Adam Toledo’s family, released a statement last Sunday regarding the gang retaliation threat, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“This report, if true, is extremely disturbing,” Ortiz said. “Let me be perfectly clear, the Toledo family condemns violence against police and all other members of the community.”
The family asked everyone “to remain respectful, peaceful, and law abiding in expressing their grief over Adam’s death,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
“No one has anything to gain by inciting violence,” said the teen’s mother, 44-year-old Elizabeth Toledo.
“Adam was a sweet and loving boy,” she added. “He would not want anyone else to be injured or die in his name.”
Shortly after her son’s death, Elizabeth Toledo and her family said in a statement that it was “unreasonable” for the CPD officer to use deadly force against Adam Toledo, WLS reported.
“He did not deserve to die the way he did,” the family said. “The Toledo Family will seek justice for this reprehensible crime.”
Elizabeth Toledo told WLS she wants “justice” for her son and “answers” from police.
“Why did he shoot at him if there’s other ways?” she asked. “He was so full of life. They just took it away from him…He was a little boy. Obviously, he was gonna get scared.”
“He wanted to be a cop when he grew up,” she told the Chicago Sun-Times. “And next thing you know, a cop took his life.”
The officer who shot Adam Toledo has been placed on desk duty for at least the next 30 days while the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) investigates the incident, WLS reported.
Superintendent Brown said the officer-involved shooting of a juvenile has long been his greatest fear, WLS reported.
“My greatest fear as the Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department has been a deadly encounter between one of our own and a juvenile especially given the recent rise in violent crimes involving juveniles throughout our city,” Superintendent Brown said in a statement. “Unfortunately, this fear became a reality earlier this week. Any loss of life is tragic, especially when it involves youth.”
He extended his condolences to the teen’s family, but did not name him because he didn’t want to “violate his privacy as a juvenile.”
“The split-second decision to use deadly force is extremely difficult for any officer, and is always a heavy burden to bear for officers involved in fatal shooting incidents,” Superintendent Brown added.