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Adam Toledo: A Lot to Unpack

For those of you who have not followed the story, Adam Toledo was a 13-year-old person of color who was shot dead by police officer Eric Stillman. Police received a call of weapons fire and they responded. Toledo and an older boy were allegedly firing into vehicles with loaded weapons. The cops responded, they caught up with Toledo on foot. The police officer was running with his weapon drawn when Toledo dumped his weapon and turned around with his hands up. The officer, not knowing whether or not Toledo was turning to shoot or to surrender, fired on the spot, killing Toledo. Should the officer be held accountable for this crime?

Where do We Lay the Blame?

Already, lines are beginning to form. On the one side, you have people blaming the police officer for using cowboy tactics to contain the situation. Others blame the 13-year-old, his parents, or the older boy who was with him at the time, Ruben Roman, who put the gun in his hands. Roman will face charges for putting the gun into the hands of the 13-year-old. But police-reform advocates believe that police are scapegoating Roman for their own mistake. Could it be that they are actually all right?

Police Tactics When Engaging Armed Suspects

Someone calls to report shots fired in their neighborhood. Police catch up with two individuals. The younger individual, who did not fire a shot, ends up with the gun. Why? Because the older boy knows that the charges will not be as stiff against a 13-year-old as they will a 17-year-old. So the child now has the gun. He is running away from police, and he does not want to get shot, so he obeys their instructions. He drops the weapon and puts his hands up. He is killed anyway.

Police Department Blowback

While police are rallying around the vilified officer, they will be most likely to bear the brunt of his decision. Despite his training, despite any other consideration, this police officer made a decision that, in hindsight, we all know was wrong. However, just because it was incorrect does not mean it was morally or even legally wrong. It just means it did not turn out the best way that it could have.

What is true is that the next 13-year-old running around with a gun in his hands is less likely to follow commands than he would have been before the shooting. Consider the fact that Toledo did everything that was asked of him and still was shot. Now, the next kid running around with a gun is going to figure that, since he will be shot anyway, he might as well take his chances in a firefight. That makes all police and the public less safe. One could argue that pursuing an armed suspect on foot with guns drawn also makes the public less safe. 

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you have been charged with a serious crime in Cook County, call the Chicago criminal defense attorney with years of experience arguing in both federal and state courts. David Freidberg can be reached at (312) 560-7100 or via our email. Call today and allow us to begin preparing your defense immediately.

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