Adam Toledo, the 13-year-old who was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer last month, was the “most loving and caring little kid,” who loved movies like “I Am Legend” and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs," according to his older brother.
The boy's death—and that of Daunte Wright who was killed in a separate incident in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota —has sparked outrage and protests across the country. In Chicago, approximately 1,000 people gathered Friday carrying signs that read “Stop killing kids,” as the crowd chanted, “No justice, no peace,” according to local station WMAQ-TV.
Toledo was killed by police officer Eric Stillman around 3 a.m. on March 29 in Little Village, a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood in the city’s south side. Stillman was responding with other officers to a report of shots being fired in the area, when he spotted Toledo and began to chase him on foot.
Bodycam footage released by the department showed Stillman running down an alley yelling “Police! Stop! Stop right (expletive) now!”
Toledo appears to toss a gun behind a fence in a split-second move, before turning toward Stillman with his hands up. Stillman fires his weapon, striking Toledo in the chest. A surveillance video nearby also appears to show Toledo making a tossing motion with his right hand before turning, WMAQ-TV reported.
“Adam, during the last second of life, did not have a gun in his hand,” Adeena Weiss-Ortiz, an attorney for Toledo’s family, said at a news conference after the video footage was released. “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.”
Stillman’s attorney Timothy Grace argued in a statement obtained by the WMAQ-TV that Stillman believed his life was in danger and thought that Toledo was swinging the gun in his direction when the fatal shots were 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,” Grace said. “The officer had no place to take cover or concealment, the gun was being orientate[d] in his direction and he was left with no other option.”
Stillman has been placed on administrative duty as the investigation into the fatal shooting continues.
Toledo’s mother remembered her slain son as a curious and goofy seventh grader who loved riding his bike, animals, and eating junk food.
Toledo’s cousin, Lupita Perez, told ABC News that he was “kind” and “funny” and used to make her 7-year-old daughter laugh by playing with the young girl’s dolls.
She also described him as extremely close to his 11-year-old brother Anthony, and her own 11-year-old son Jael Cholico.
Cholico remembered Toledo in a heartbreaking note shared at the 13-year-old’s funeral.
“Adam’s life was cut down short. Adam would have done great things. I wish Adam would [have grown] old with me and Anthony,” he wrote. “Our kids would have been best friends. Yes, you may be gone, but you will be forever in our hearts.”
Toledo’s older brother Marco Toledo, 22, had just bought a house outside of Chicago and had been hoping to have his little brothers over for a sleepover. Now, he’ll never get the chance.
He remembered his brother as the “most loving and caring little kid” who loved zombie movies and “I Am Legend.”
He said his younger brother “wasn’t a bad kid.”
“Us being little kids, we all made mistakes. Why? Because no teenager and no human is perfect,” he told ABC News. “No matter what, we all have our flaws and mistakes we have made as kids and still do till this day. No matter what people say, kids will be kids and will make mistakes, but will learn from them—something my little brother didn’t get the chance to do.”
As the investigation into Toledo’s death continues, a veteran Cook County prosecutor has also been placed on administrative leave after he “failed to fully present the facts” of the case during a bond hearing for 21-year-old Ruben Roman, who had been with Toledo the night of the shooting, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy had told Judge Susana Ortiz that Toledo had a gun in his hand at the time he was shot.
“In court last week, an attorney in our office failed to fully present the facts surrounding the death of a 13-year-old boy,” Sarah Sinovic, a spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office said. “We have put that individual on leave and are conducting an internal investigation into the matter.”
Perez said Toledo's mother is now just looking for justice.
"She just wants his name to be cleared because he did have his hands up when the cop shot at him," she said.
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