The president of the Chicago Police Union said the officer who fatally shot a 13-year-old Adam Toledo was ‘justified’ although the boy appeared to drop a handgun and raise his hands before he was killed.
John Catanzara told Chris Cuomo on CNN that an ‘officer does not have to wait to be shot at or shot to respond and be able to defend himself.’
A still frame taken from the 3am footage indicates Adam Toledo, 13, wasn’t holding anything and had his hands up when officer Eric Stillman, 34, shot him in the chest following a foot chase on March 29.
Police say the teen had a handgun on him that morning, and that less than a second passed from when Toledo is seen with a gun in hand and when Stillman opened fire.
John Catanzara, right, appears on Cuomo Prime Time on Thursday night to discuss the Adam Toledo shooting
Catanzara called the officer ‘100% justified’ in the shooting
Bodycam footage shows the officer shining a light on a handgun on the ground near the teen after he shot him.
Earlier footage also appears to show the boy was carrying a gun in the moments before he was shot, throwing it behind a fence before turning to face the cop.
‘Time lapse photos show that the officer had 8/10ths of a second to determine if that weapon was still in his hands or not. Period. There’s no way a rational person can say they can process that and their muscle reaction would be less than one second,’ Catanzara said on Cuomo Prime Time.
He also defended Stillman, saying ‘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 one. He would have been justified to shoot multiple times.’
‘The officer did everything he possibly could to the letter of the law and the guidelines of the Chicago Police Department.’
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, an independent board that investigates Chicago police shootings, released the graphic footage Thursday after allowing Toledo’s family to view it privately on Tuesday.
Police had said they responded before dawn on the morning of the shooting after a police technology detected gun shots there.
Footage appears to show the boy was carrying a gun in the moments before he was shot, throwing it behind a fence
Police say the teen had a handgun on him that morning, and the bodycam footage shows the officer shining a light on a handgun on the ground near Toledo after he shot him in the early hours of March 29. Toldeo can be seeing in the gap in the fence above
The Chicago Police Department released a photo of the gun that was recovered from the scene after one of its officers shot and killed Adam Toledo last Monday
Video shows the pursuing officer ordering Toledo to stop and show his hands, which the teen is seen doing in the screenshot above
The teen, who was Latino, and a 21-year-old, named as Ruben Roman Jr, fled on foot when confronted by police, and an officer shot the teen once in the chest following a foot chase during what the department described as an armed confrontation.
Roman Jr was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest.
The footage shows that it took 19 seconds from which Stillman, 34, exited his squad car to when he shot the teen.
After getting out of the vehicle, the officer chases Toledo on foot down an alley for several seconds.
‘Stop right f***ing now!’ the officer yells at the fleeing teen. ‘Show me your f***ing hands! Drop it’
When Toledo turns around to face the officer, he appears to raise his hands. A moment later, a single shot rings out and the teen collapses to the ground, with blood gushing from his mouth.
The officer radios in ‘shot fired,’ lays Toledo flat on his back and begins frantically looking for the wound. ‘Stay with me, stay with me,’ he implores the mortally wounded Toledo.
Elizabeth Toledo (left) is pictured with her son, Adam (right), who she said was ‘full for life’ and wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement
Toledo passed away after suffering a single gunshot wound to the upper chest
Another officer rushes over with a medical kit and the two begin administering CPR. ‘I’m not feeling a heartbeat,’ the officer says.
Adam’s family attorney Adeena Weiss-Ortiz said Thursday: ‘Those videos speak for themselves. If you are shooting an unarmed child with his hands in the air it is an assassination.
‘His hands were empty when he was shot in the chest at the hands of the officer.
‘Adam during his last seconds of life did not have a gun in his hand. Adam complied. He did not have a gun in his hand. The officer saw his hands were up and pulled the trigger.’
Catanzara also cited Toledo’s alleged ties to the Latin Kings and said, ‘The poor young kid made a horrible decision that cost him his life, but it was justified.
‘I will say, he’s 13 years old. We talk about the public school system in Chicago specifically. He should have been in school. But we’re not in school learning, now are we?’
Cuomo wondered why whether Toledo had gang ties is relevant and accused Catanzara of trying to ‘smear’ him.
‘I’m just stating facts, I’m not smearing anybody,’ Catanzara said.
Cuomo asked the union head why the officer was justified in shooting Toledo ‘if you believe that it was obvious that the kid threw the gun behind the fence.’
Catanzara said ‘because there’s no way the officer could see where his arm went when it went behind that fence panel.’
‘The officer’s actions were actually heroic.’
He also said Stillman and the other responding officers will live with guilt and have ‘got to bring that home to their families, and then their families are affected by this.’