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ShotSpotter Technology May Have Led to Adam Toledo’s Death

Chicago P.D. is being pressured by activists to stop using the ShotSpotter technology that allows them to respond to reports of gunfire. Activists claim that police are using ShotSpotter reports to fabricate evidence against shooting victims. They also claim that the microphone sensors are placed disproportionately in minority neighborhoods. 

Prosecutors in Chicago have been forced to withdraw evidence related to ShotSpotter after discoveries have been made that the technology could be easily tampered with. Police departments use the technology to find gunshots and increase response times. Adam Toledo was among the incidents in which ShotSpotter technology was employed. Police say there was a report of gunfire, an assailant was firing into vehicles. That is when they caught up with Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old with a gun. Toledo tried to ditch the gun, but when he pulled it out, the officer shot him.

What is wrong with ShotSpotter?

Let’s assume ShotSpotter works as advertised. Every time there is a gunshot or a loud noise, police are alerted that an armed suspect may be lurking. In other words, they are on high alert, guns drawn, and expecting an armed confrontation. Essentially, anyone in that area then becomes a potential target for police, and it goes off 61 times a day, thus increasing the number of fatal interactions with police.

ShotSpotter can only report that a loud noise has occurred, it cannot differentiate between one loud noise and another. If a tire blows out or a car backfires, everyone in the neighborhood now has a target on their backs. 

Further, analysis of ShotSpotter data seems to indicate that ShotSpotter is most frequently used in minority neighborhoods, although police would likely claim that they place the microphones in neighborhoods with high crime rates. 

A case study in failure

The biggest claim against ShotSpotter is that it does not work. In one case, a man who dropped another man off at the hospital was charged with his shooting. The ShotSpotter report showed a percussive sound within a mile. Initially, ShotSpotter recorded the sound as a firework, but later, a ShotSpotter analyst changed the data to a gunshot. A month later, a second ShotSpotter analyst changed the data to a gunshot emanating directly from the defendant’s location. 

Essentially, the claim is being made that ShotSpotter manipulates data to help police departments make unsupportable cases. Now that this is known, prosecutors are not relying on the technology to help build their cases. In fact, cases that are built primarily on ShotSpotter sensors are being voluntarily dismissed by Cook County Prosecutors.

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If ShotSpotter has been used in producing criminal charges against you, there is a pretty good chance we can get it tossed. Call David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 to discuss your situation in greater detail and learn more about how we can protect your future.

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