The Chicago police officer who shot and killed a 13-year-old boy last month was fully justified in his actions, the head of the Chicago police union said Thursday.
The comments by Fraternal Order of Police union president John Catanzara came hours after a new video was released that appeared to show Adam Toledo, 13, holding a gun prior to his confrontation with Chicago police officer Eric Stillman.
Other footage from Stillman’s bodycam showed that Toledo’s hands appeared to be empty at the moment he was shot, according to the New York Post.
WARNING: The following video contains violent images that some viewers may find disturbing.
Police were summoned to the area where the March 29 shooting took place after they received reports of gunshots being fired.
“Police, stop! Stop right f*****g now,” Stillman shouted as he chased Toledo between sections of fencing. “Hands! Show me your f*****g hands.”
“Drop it! Drop it,” Sillman yelled in the bodycam footage, according to the Post.
The new footage showed that there was less than a second between the time Toledo seemingly dropped a gun behind a fence and the moment he turned to face Stillman.
Catanzara said the video proves Stillman was justified.
“He was 100 percent right,” Catanzara said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “The offender still turned with a gun in his hand. This occurred in eight-tenths of a second.”
Catanzara defended Stillman against CNN’s Chris Cuomo on the host’s Prime Time segment.
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) April 16, 2021
“Time-lapse photos shows that that officer had eight-tenths of a second to determine if that weapon was still in his hand 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.
“The officer does not have to wait to be shot at or shot in order to respond and defend himself,” he said.
Another individual who was with Toledo that morning, 21-year old Ruben Roman, was arrested and a gun was recovered on the other side of the fence where Toledo stopped, police said.
Catanzara told Cuomo that officers responding to the shots fired call saw no one on the street except for Toledo and his companion, which made it likely that at least one of the suspects was armed.
In that context, he said, the officer had virtually no time to react.
“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.”
As Cuomo pressed Catanzara about the incident, the union leader responded at one point, “you can Monday-morning quarterback it all you want.”
He further defended the officer, noting that “if someone’s willing to shoot at a passing vehicle, there is a simple expectation that they are certainly willing to shoot at anybody.”
“That officer’s actions were actually heroic,” he said.
Catanzara noted that Toledo was a recently inducted member of the Latin Kings gang.
“The poor young kid, misguided, made a horrible decision that cost him his life, but it was justified,” he said.
According to the Sun-Times, Tim Grace — an attorney for Stillman — said the officer should not be charged, adding, “I don’t think he will be charged. There’s always that chance that Kim Foxx will make a different decision and will do what is politically expedient in her view.
“I don’t know how you can charge a cop who was put in his situation. [Adam Toledo] had a gun and was turning with the gun. The officer had no backup and he did what he needed to do when fearing for his life. He is justified in his actions.”
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