Chicago's top cop and the head of the city's police oversight agency on Thursday shared new insight into the ongoing investigation of the fatal police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo, discussing a potential timeline for any further developments as they asked for patience following the release of footage showing the shooting.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability - Chicago's police oversight agency investigating the shooting - released the videos on Thursday, two days after Adam's family was shown the footage and 17 days after the shooting itself.
Body-camera footage of the shooting was made public, along with multiple third-party surveillance videos and other materials related to the investigation, including ShotSpotter recordings, audio of 911 calls and incident reports.
During a virtual meeting of the Chicago Police Board Thursday following the videos' release, COPA's Chief Administrator Sydney Roberts emphasized that the ongoing investigation into the shooting and the officer's use of force will take more time.
"We are investigating the death of a young man that is going to take time: time for the interviews, time for the forensic analysis that comes through, time to review the medical examiner's report, time for ISP to review their report, and those things are things that COPA does not have control over," Roberts said.
"We are contingent and reliant upon external agencies to do their work so that COPA can reach a finding based upon all of the evidence," she continued. "Our investigation is much more than just looking at a video and interviewing the people. That we can do, we've already started that. But we also do not want to close this investigation before we review ballistic evidence. We do not want to conclude this investigation before we do DNA analysis. We do not want to conclude this investigation until we receive the medical examiner's report."
"Those are all things that are done by agencies outside of the city," Roberts said. "And so I ask for the public's patience to allow us to do a full and thorough and objective investigation - an objective investigation of the entire incident that includes not only the officer's use of deadly force but the actions of the other officers, what brought the officers there, what action they took while they were there preceding the shooting and what happened afterwards."
Roberts said that before COPA was created in 2016, replacing the previous Independent Police Review Authority, investigations by IPRA took around two to three years to be completed. But through "process improvements, efficiencies, better oversight," Roberts said COPA is now completing investigations in an average of 18 months, a timeline she called "unheard of" by civilian oversight agencies.
Once COPA finishes its investigation and makes a recommendation for any further action, including potential disciplinary measures against any officers involved, those findings are sent to Chicago Police Supt. David Brown.
Brown also spoke at the Police Board meeting Thursday, offering the Chicago Police Department's "full cooperation" in the investigation and again explaining the timeline and process once he receives COPA's findings.
The officer who fatally shot Adam was identified in reports that COPA released Thursday as 34-year-old Eric Stillman, a member of CPD since August 2015, assigned to the 10th District.
Stillman has been placed on administrative duties for 30 days in accordance with department policy as COPA investigates.
"If after COPA's investigation, any allegations are sustained and seeks a penalty of suspension of more than one year or separation, those recommendations will be forwarded to me," Brown said. "I will then have 90 days to review COPA's recommendation. If I agree, the recommendation is sent to the city's Department of Law to prepare charges for suspension or separation, which are then filed before the Police Board."
"If I disagree with COPA's recommendation, the decision goes before a one-person panel of the Police Board for determination and possible referral to the entire Board," Brown continued, adding, "It is important that as the police department's final decision maker on COPA's recommendation for this investigation that I remain impartial and withhold any statement of opinion until presented with the evidence that COPA has gathered."
"And finally, I want to convey my deepest condolences to the Toledo family, and my appreciation for the family's call for calm and for peace during this difficult time," Brown added.
The shooting took place in the early morning hours of March 29. At the time, police said officers responded to an alert of shots fired at 2:37 a.m. in the 2300 block of South Sawyer and saw two males in a nearby alley. Police said, and the newly released video shows, that both fled as the officers chased them and Stillman opened fire. Adam was pronounced dead at the scene.
Footage released Thursday from Stillman's body camera video shows him driving to the scene in the Little Village neighborhood in response to an alert of shots fired, then exiting his vehicle and running down an alley as he yelled at Adam to stop and put his hands up.
Adam pauses near a fence at the end of the alley, with a split-second frame of the video appearing to show him toss a gun behind the fence and turn toward Stillman with his hands up.
A surveillance video from across the parking lot, though recorded from a distance, also shows Adam make a tossing motion with his right hand behind the fence before turning to face Stillman, who immediately fired.
"At this point the officer was faced with a life threatening and deadly force situation. All prior attempts to deescalate and gain compliance with all of the officers lawful orders had failed," Stillman's attorney Timothy Grace said in a statement Thursday. "The officer had no place to take cover or concealment, the gun was being orientate in his direction and he was left with no other option."
Stillman's body camera video shows that he fired one fatal shot nearly instantaneously as Adam turned and raised his hands, the boy illuminated by a flashing light that appeared to show both of his hands at that point were empty.
The video shows that after Adam fell to the ground, the officer moved toward the boy and called for medical assistance, saying "shots fired by the police" as he requested an ambulance and began chest compressions.
Minutes after the shooting, the footage shows another officer shine a flashlight on a gun on the ground behind the fence, several feet from where other officers were attempting to resuscitate Adam.
An attorney for Adam's family said Thursday that the video showed boy did not have a gun in his hand at the moment Stillman fatally shot him.
"Adam, during his last second of life, did not have a gun in his hand. The officer screamed at him, 'Show me your hands.' Adam complied, turned around, his hands were empty when he was shot in the chest at the hands of the officer. He did not have a gun in his hand," attorney Adeena Weiss Ortiz said in a news conference after the video was released.
The shooting has sparked outrage, protests and a range of emotional responses across the city. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the boy's family together called for calm over the "incredibly painful" release.
"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," Lightfoot and Toledo family's attorneys said in a joint statement. "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."