On March 29, just after 2:30 AM, Chicago’s ShotSpotter alert system detected eight or nine gunshots in the West Side, largely Latino, neighborhood of Little Village, where gangs like the Latin Kings and Two Six have made gunplay a regular part of life. Chicago police officer Eric Stillman and his partner sped toward the gunshots once they received the ShotSpotter alert, doubtless hoping to nab the perpetrators and spare the community additional carnage. When they arrived on the scene, almost immediately after those shots were fired, they happened upon two individuals. One of them—who we now know to be 13-year-old Adam Toledo—took off on foot and, at one point, pulled a gun with his right hand. Stillman gave chase, and the world saw what happened next—at least the part highlighted (and, in one case, deceptively edited) by media outlets, many of which elided the actual events of Toledo’s shooting.
The immediate cause of Toledo’s death was the bullet fired by Officer Stillman. But it’s worth examining how a 13-year-old boy ended up in a full sprint through a dark alley at 2:30 AM with a gun in his hand and a police officer on his tail.
Start a few minutes before the shooting. Though it hasn’t gotten much attention, a video compilation that the Chicago Police Department released includes footage that seems to show Toledo walking with a young man before one (or both) fired the eight or nine shots at a passing vehicle near the alley where the police encountered Toledo. Exactly who pulled the trigger remains unclear (the footage is grainy), though CNN reported last Friday, citing prosecutors, that both Toledo’s hand, and the gloves of the man he was with, tested positive for gunshot residue. According to police, that man is a 21-year-old named Ruben Roman, who was arrested at the scene for allegedly obstructing Officer Stillman as he gave chase.