The president of the Chicago police union has defended the officer involved in the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo, calling his actions “heroic” and “100% justified.”
“The officer does not have to wait to be shot at or shot in order to respond and defend himself. There is no obligation whatsoever,” Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara said Thursday during an appearance on CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time.
His comments came just after the release of video that appeared to show Toledo was not armed when he was shot by police officer Eric Stillman, who is 34 years old. He was responding to reports of shots fired on March 29 when he first encountered Toledo and 21-year-old Ruben Roman, who has since been charged.
“Police! Stop, stop right f–king now!” Stillman is heard shouting as he chases the teen down an alley. “Hands! Show me your f–king hands!”
The video, according to police, shows a gun in Toledo’s right hand as he nears an opening in a fence beside an empty lot. He quickly turns to his left, toward the officer, and appears to drop the gun behind his back.
Toledo then begins to raise his hands as he’s turning to face the officer, who fires his weapon.
Catanzara on Thursday specifically pointed to the very short amount of time Stillman had to make a decision when he was facing down the seventh grader.
“Time lapse video shows that that officer had eight-tenths of a second to determine if that weapon was still in his hand or not. Period,” he said.
“In reality, an average human being could not block someone from slapping him in the face in less time than that… It’s a good reason why the officer only shot once. He would have been justified to shoot multiple times.”
Prosecutors initially said Toledo was holding a gun in his right hand when he stopped running, but walked back the statement on Thursday, admitting that the attorney who made that claim had “failed to fully inform himself,” according to a local CBS affiliate reported.
Police later said the boy had a gun right before he turned around and dropped it, which was found nearby the scene of the shooting.
Catanzara also alleged Adam was a member of a gang called the Latin Kings. This has not been confirmed by law enforcement but the area where Toledo was shot is a stronghold of the gang, according to The Chicago Sun-Times.
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