“COPA has determined that certain provisions of state law intended to protect the confidentiality of juvenile records do not prohibit the agency’s release of material related to its investigation of a Chicago Police Officer’s fatal shooting of 13-year old Adam Toledo,” the agency said in a Friday statement. “COPA is currently working with the Toledo family and their representative to arrange for a review of the troubling video footage.”
The officer in question, who has yet to be named, has been placed on “routine administrative duties” for 30 days, the Chicago Police Department said in a news release. The investigation is ongoing.
The decision comes as the city grapples with why police were delayed in identifying the boy and releasing details of a shooting that still remains a mystery to Adam’s family days later. At a news conference Friday, family attorney Adeena Weiss Ortiz said the boy’s mother, who did not find out until Wednesday that her son had been killed by police, only wants to know the truth of what happened to Adam.
“All we know at this time is a 13-year-old boy died,” Weiss Ortiz told reporters. “He went to Gary Elementary School. He shared time with his four siblings, and all we know is that he was shot.”
Fighting through tears, Elizabeth Toledo, Adam’s mother, said Friday, “I just want to know what really happened to my baby.”
Adam is believed to be the youngest person fatally shot by Chicago police since at least 2015, according to The Washington Post’s database of police shootings.
Chicago police spokesman Michael Carroll told The Post the department could not comment beyond its news release and directed questions to COPA. The accountability office did not immediately return a request for comment Saturday.
Police responded to reports of gunfire in the Little Village neighborhood shortly after 2:30 a.m. Monday. When officers arrived at the 2300 block of South Sawyer Avenue, police said, they “observed two males in a nearby alley.” Chicago police said the two people, including one who was allegedly armed, then fled the scene, resulting in a foot pursuit by officers. During the “armed confrontation” in an alley, police said, an officer shot a person in the chest.
Police did not identify the 13-year-old in their news release but said the person was pronounced dead at the scene. Tom Ahern, a Chicago police spokesman, shared a photo of a gun allegedly recovered by authorities. It remains unclear whether the gun was fired before the boy was shot, police told the Associated Press.
The other person who reportedly ran from the officers has been identified as 21-year-old Ruben Roman Jr., who was arrested and charged with resisting arrest, police said. Roman previously pleaded guilty to illegal gun possession and was sentenced to probation in 2019, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
When police knocked on the door of Toledo’s West Side home around 1 p.m. Wednesday, the 44-year-old homemaker believed they were responding to the missing report she filed on Adam. The mother of five told the Sun-Times that she had not seen her 13-year-old son since they attended a relative’s memorial service on Sunday.
Instead, Toledo was informed her son might have been shot and asked by police to identify whether Adam’s body was at the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Nearly 60 hours after the early-morning encounter with police, the mother confirmed to the coroner that her son was dead.
Police spokesman Don Terry explained to the Chicago Tribune that law enforcement had no way of immediately identifying the boy because he was not carrying ID or a cellphone, and they were able to match his description with his missing persons report.
Almost immediately, activists and critics called on the city to release the body-cam video of the police encounter that left a seventh-grader dead. But COPA initially said Thursday that the video would not be released, citing the Juvenile Court Act — an Illinois law that attorneys say has been rejected as an argument to withhold footage of minors in police shootings.
The pressure heightened after COPA’s stance Thursday, when Chicago Police Superintendent David O. Brown urged the agency to release “any and all video, including body-worn camera footage, of the incident.” That was followed by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) tweeting that it was “critically important” for the police accountability office to release the video involving Adam “as quickly as possible.”
“Because his family and the public will undoubtedly have many questions, we must release any relevant videos as soon as possible,” Lightfoot said. “Recognizing that these are the most complex cases that COPA investigates, transparency and speed are crucial.”
Although COPA reversed course on its plans to release the video, some in the community remain skeptical of the police’s account that Adam was armed. At the news conference Friday, Weiss Ortiz, the Toledo family’s attorney, acknowledged that the allegation was surprising to the family, but she said they hoped the body-cam video can help shed light on the early-morning shooting.
The mother also spoke of the dreams Adam had in life — including one she admits is painful in the days since his death.
“He wanted to be a cop when he grew up,” Adam’s mother told the Sun-Times. “And next thing you know, a cop took his life.”