A “Split-Second” Decision: A Chicago police officer fatally shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo as he turned to surrender after a foot chase. Here’s what both sides are saying. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.
Top Story: A “Split-Second” Decision
In the early morning hours of March 29, a Chicago police officer fatally shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo as he turned to surrender after a foot chase. The killing set off protests and demonstrations in the Hispanic neighborhood of Little Village and other areas across the country. Tim Grace, an attorney for police officer Eric Stillman, said, “We’re talking about a half of a half of a second, where this officer needs to make the split decision of whether or not to use deadly force.” Meanwhile, Adeena Weiss-Ortiz, the attorney for Toledo’s family, said, “Adam died because he complied.” Yesterday, Latino lawyers and community leaders asked the Department of Justice to investigate the fatal shooting. That’s where the issue stands, and here’s what both sides are saying about the tragic event:
On The Right
The right sees a tragedy resulting from a lack of parental supervision and an out-of-control gang presence in the city. They also blame the media for exploiting an officer’s difficult snap judgment call to ultimately advance a racial narrative.
In a video, conservative activist Charlie Kirk outlines case facts he claims the media is choosing to ignore. For starters Kirk says, 21-year-old, Ruben Roman, a Chicago gang member, was grooming 13-year-old Adam Toledo to join the crime organization. Police came upon the two men when responding to a report of eight gunshots fired at a vehicle at 2:30 a.m. Kirk replays the full video and asks viewers to place themselves in the police officer’s shoes and consider the subsequent decision they would make. In a separate video, radio and TV host, Dana Loesch, asked Fox News’ Sean Hannity, “Where were the adults in Adam Toledo’s life?” Loesch says “the people around Toledo should not have let the 13-year-old child out into an alleyway in a city in the middle of the night with an armed 21-year-old who was a prohibited possessor. No one is having that conversation.”
On a similar note, Rafael A. Mangual makes the case in City Journal that the older gang member who pulled Toledo into a life marked by violence is ultimately responsible for his death. He references Chicago Police Department footage that “seems to show Toledo walking with a young man before one (or both) fired the eight or nine shots at a passing vehicle near the alley where the police encountered Toledo.” While reformers push to raise the “age of criminal responsibility to 18 or 21,” Mangual believes that “would heighten the incentive for ‘more adult members’ to push the responsibility to carry out shootings onto juveniles.” He sees a system that undermines prospects for children by “continuously [releasing] known gang members…despite long arrest records and serious criminal convictions…” Ultimately, Mangual concludes, “Adam Toledo’s tragic death was caused not just by a police officer’s bullet but by the forces that introduced him to gang life.”
Finally, in PJ Media, Jack Dunphy tears apart the media for exploiting the “heartbreaking” Adam Toledo incident to push a “narrative intended to portray the police as coldblooded assassins preying on innocent young men in ‘communities of color.’” He accuses them of emphasizing “certain aspects of the story while downplaying or ignoring others” if the event conforms to a “certain racial calculus.” For example, Dunphy points out the “stubborn persistence of the false ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ myth” in the 2014 Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Mo. The tale relayed now, Dunphy explains, is that Toledo was unarmed when, in fact, he dropped his gun only a second before he was shot while raising his hands. Dunphy explains this myth is propagated by a Chicago Tribune story that used a photo taken a second after Toledo released the gun to remove context and portray him as unarmed.
The right sees a tragedy resulting from the combination of no parental supervision, gang culture, and political/media incompetence, not racial animus.
On The Left
The left documents the Toledo shooting as yet another instance of police brutality targeting black and brown communities. They see this as a systemic problem in America, with some proposing to reallocate funds away from police departments as a solution.
Writing for CNN, Attorney Raul A. Reyes takes issue with the Chicago prosecutor, who he recounts saying, “Adam was holding a gun when he was shot,” which was “not supported by the video footage.” Reyes insists that “such statements contributed to a false narrative that Adam was somehow a dangerous criminal.” Further, he writes Officer Stillman “acted as judge, jury and executioner” in his decision to fire his weapon. For Reyes, “enough is enough,” and he calls for the officer to be “held fully accountable for his actions.”
Meanwhile, Ibram X. Kendi, a prominent black author and activist, writes in The Atlantic it was “Stillman who put Toledo in a split-second situation where he had to make a decision,” and he did. Kendi states Toledo did “everything the officer asked him to…[he] complied, but he is not alive today.” Kendi calls this “the terror of American policing” for black and brown people. “When we do not comply, we die like Daunte Wright did, when we do comply, we die like Adam Toledo.” Kendi sees police repeatedly advising racial minorities to “comply and survive,” which he analogizes to “the Ku Klux Klan and its powerful enablers,” who “delivered a similar message to black and brown people.” To Kendi, “black and brown people’s defiance is not the problem” and their “compliance is not the solution.” Ultimately, he believes the common “American dream” is his “American nightmare.”
Lastly, in MSNBC, Keisha N. Blain describes a video showing “a terrified boy running away from a police officer” whose “hands were up in the air when the officer fired the shot that killed him.” She details the “long history of police violence against Black and brown children” as well as “efforts by police officers and public officials to conceal details,” which she says “underscores the inherent problem of American policing.” Instead of policing, Blain supports “calls to defund the police,” which she says “must be taken seriously.” As she sees it, “Black and brown communities would be better served if funds were reallocated from police departments to other forms of public safety and to address social issues such as poverty.”
The Toledo case does nothing but fan the flames of the left’s existing uproar against discriminatory police practices in America.
Flag This: A “Split-Second” Decision
A mid-April Morning Consult survey found that 69 percent of American adults view “police violence against the public” as at least a “somewhat” serious problem. That is down 10% from last summer’s survey and also lower than the July 2016 poll. On a party level, only 41% of white Republicans view police violence as a serious problem — down 18% since 2016 — compared to 88% among Democrats. Like many issues currently facing the US, a wide schism exists between Democrat and Republican views on the matter.
Flag Poll: A “Split-Second” Decision
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