The attorney for Chicago police officer, Eric Stillman, claims that the police officer had to make a “split-second decision” in the moment that he shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo.
Since Stillman had “no cover, no concealment,” when he saw Toledo with a gun, he had fired a shot at the teen. He is now being labeled as a “villain,” says Stillman’s attorney.
The bodycam footage has been released since last Thursday, showing Toledo’s tragic death to the public as he is shot to the chest after escaping a foot chase from officers.
In the video, it is shown that Toledo has a gun in his right hand, but appears to drop the gun behind a fence to raise his hands towards the officers. There is less than a second that passes between them and Stillman shoots at the child, the gun that Toledo was holding is recovered from the scene for further inspection.
Moments after the incident, Stillman rushes to the scene and tries to resuscitate the young man, shining a light upon him to see that the gun had been dropped and was not on Toledo himself.
Tim Grace, Eric Stillman’s attorney, tells sources that the nation is “villifying a very good police officer. The officer gave him multiple verbal commands, the officer told him to drop the gun, the officer told him he was Chicago police.”
He also adds that Toledo was still holding a gun when he started to turn towards Stillman, inciting the “split-second decision” he had to make in that sudden moment.
At this point, Grace says, he has no cover and through his decision, he made a “decision that was consistent with the Chicago Police general orders, use-of-force guidelines and with the law.”
This does not mean that the officer is not taking it lightly, the decision was the “last thing” he wanted to use since he wanted to avoid deadly force as much as possible. In recent news, this was the first time he shot someone in a line of fire.
Grace comments that Stillman “understands that what he did and what he had to do – and all law enforcement officers across the country, the last thing they want to do is to have to discharge their weapon and use deadly force.”
Stillman is being treated as the “villain” but believes that the boy’s death can be blamed on the Latin Kings gang who he claimed to have “recruited” Toledo and gave him a gun.
The situation has made it to the White House, in which press secretary Jen Psaki states that she is in the president’s support for the current House-passed police reform bill, George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, but have not been fully activated because it is stuck at the US Senate.
The Toledo family has asked for the general public to try to remain peaceful, and the Chicago mayor says that there are “systemic failures that we simply must fix.”