David Brown

13-Year-Old Boy Killed by Officer After What Police Called an ‘Armed Confrontation'

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Police shot and killed a 13-year-old boy after what officials described as an “armed confrontation” in Little Village early Monday, although no video and few details have been released so far.

Adam Toledo, 13, who lived in the neighborhood, was shot in his chest and later died, the Cook County medical examiner’s office said.

In a statement, police said officers responded to a ShotSpotter alert about 2:35 a.m. and saw two males standing in an alley in the Southwest Side neighborhood.

One person, who was allegedly armed, ran from the scene and was shot by a police officer during an “armed confrontation” in the 2300 block of South Spaulding Avenue, police said. Farragut Career Academy High School is located at the end of the block.

That person, later identified as Adam, died at the scene, police said. An autopsy found he died of a gunshot wound to his chest.

Police shared a photo of a gun allegedly recovered at the scene.

The other person who ran from police, 21-year-old Ruben Roman Jr. of Edgewater, was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor count of resisting arrest, police said. In 2019, Roman pleaded guilty to illegal gun possession stemming from an arrest in Evanston and was sentenced to probation, court records show.

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown released a statement Thursday afternoon, calling the fatal shooting of a juvenile by police his "greatest fear" as superintendent.

"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. Unfortunately, this fear became a reality earlier this week," he said. "Any loss of life is tragic, especially when it involves youth. On behalf of the entire Chicago Police Department, I extend my condolences to the family of the juvenile, who was fatally shot by a Chicago Police officer in the early morning hours of Monday, March 29, 2021.

"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. We fully support the investigation being conducted by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), and adamantly call for the release of any and all video, including body-worn camera footage, related to the incident, as permitted by laws pertaining to juveniles," he added. 

On Thursday, on the residential block in front of the alley where the shooting took place earlier in the week, residents gathered for a yard sale and formed a line around the corner of 24th Street and Sawyer, where a local church was holding a food drive.

Many expressed shock to hear that the person gunned down by police behind their homes was a 13-year-old boy.

Nakia Smith, a mother of a 13-year-old boy herself, said she heard gunshots on early that morning, followed moments later by a swarm of blue lights.

“It’s very disheartening, especially with what happened a year ago, with the [Derek] Chauvin trial and everything,” Smith said, referring to the Minneapolis officer who is currently on trial in the murder of George Floyd. “And then Monday morning, come to find out it was a 13-year-old boy killed … it’s just quite a bit.”

She added: “I do understand that the police don’t always know what someone is going to do, but there has to be a better way.”

Meanwhile, Rafael Hurtado Jr., 30 — who lives a few houses down from where Adam lived — called the incident tragic and urged CPD to release any footage related to the shooting.

“It’s hard to take CPDs word for it” that he was armed, he said. “Especially with everything that’s been going on with the police shootings in other places.”

He said that “it’s tragic for everyone involved, for the family, for the kid because he was so young and for the officer who pulled the trigger.”

The officer in Monday’s incident was placed on desk duty for 30 days while the Civilian Office of Police Accountability investigates the shooting, police said.

COPA is required to release body camera video of police shootings within 60 days of the incident, but department policy prohibits them from sharing video if the victim is under 18 years old. They confirmed that in a statement on Thursday, saying that they will release 911 calls, OEMC transmissions, tactical response and incident reports.

Two other people have been shot by Chicago police officers this week. Early Wednesday, an officer fatally shot an armed man in Portage Park after officers chased the man on foot. An officer fired shots after the man allegedly pulled out a gun in the 5200 block of West Eddy Street, police said.

Less than an hour later, an off-duty Chicago police officer shot someone breaking into their home in Albany Park on the Northwest Side. The officer shot the man in his face about 12:55 a.m. as the man broke into the officer’s home in the 3100 block of Belle Plaine Avenue, police said. The man was rushed in serious condition to Illinois Masonic Medical Center.

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