Video: Joining “Chicago Tonight” is Sharon Fairley, professor at the University of Chicago Law School, former federal prosecutor and the former head of the Independent Police Review Authority, or IPRA. She also created the oversight agency COPA, or the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which replaced IPRA. (Produced by Alexandra Silets)
The Chicago Police Board will begin weighing whether to fire the officer who shot and killed Adam Toledo on May 1, more than two years after the 13-year-old was shot after a brief foot chase.
The hearing was scheduled after interim Police Supt. Eric Carter formally filed administrative charges against Officer Eric Stillman, who shot Toledo in the instant that the 13-year-old turned toward him and put his hands in the air and began dropping a firearm, according to the video of the incident. The filing was a necessary step in the complicated and lengthy process required before a Chicago police officer can be fired as a result of misconduct.
Carter’s action did not reverse the recommendation of former Police Supt. David Brown, who objected to the recommendation by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, known as COPA, that Stillman be fired for violating the department’s use of force policy by shooting Toledo and violating his training on foot pursuits, according to the report COPA.
Instead, Brown recommended that Stillman be suspended for five days for failing to activate his body-worn camera when required.
That disagreement meant it was up to a randomly chosen member of the Chicago Police Board to determine whether Brown met “his burden of overcoming” COPA Chief Administrator Andrea Kersten’s recommendation.
Police Board President Ghian Foreman was randomly chosen to decide whether to uphold the superintendent’s decision or send the matter to the full board. In a four-page ruling, Foreman determined that Brown had not met his burden to overturn Kersten’s recommendation that Stillman be fired.
The start of formal termination proceedings against Stillman triggered widespread confusion, with the Toledo family celebrating what their representatives incorrectly interpreted as Carter siding with COPA, and reversing Brown’s refusal to fire Stillman, in a statement released by their lawyers.
“Our process is very complex,” Foreman told WTTW News. “It is not a perfect process.”
Two days after Toledo’s death, another Chicago police officer shot and killed 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez after a foot chase. The deaths prompted widespread outrage and fury that the Chicago Police Department did not have a policy setting the rules for foot chases.
After the deaths of Alvarez and Toledo, Brown crafted the Chicago Police Department’s first foot chase policy and promised it would protect the safety of officers, the public and those being pursued.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx declined to file criminal charges against Stillman in connection with the death of Toledo.
Toledo was carrying a firearm in his right hand, but began dropping it and tried to put his arms in the air as he turned to face Stillman, who then fired one shot at the boy, striking him in the chest, according to video captured by the Stillman's body-worn camera.
Foxx said these actions occurred “within one second.”
Stillman’s belief that he was in danger of imminent harm was reasonable “given the totality of the circumstances surrounding the incident,” Foxx determined.
Toledo’s family has filed a lawsuit against Stillman and the city of Chicago “in our effort to get justice for Adam and the Toledo family.”
The Department of Justice determined in 2017 that officers routinely violated the constitutional rights of Black and Latino Chicagoans and urged the department to adopt a policy regarding foot chases, which have repeatedly led to the deaths of Chicagoans fleeing the police.
Foxx also declined to charge Evan Solano, the officer who shot and killed Alvarez, with a crime.
Note: This article will be updated with video.