No justice for two Latinos killed by cops in Chicago
The officers involved in the shooting deaths of 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez will not be charged with crimes.
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On Tuesday, March 15, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced that no justice will be served for the police shootings of 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez.
This news comes almost one year after both incidents shook the city.
"This is a somber announcement. There are no winners in this very tragic situation," Foxx said during a press conference.
On March 29, 2021, Toledo was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer following a foot pursuit in the city’s Little Village neighborhood. Just two days later, Alvarez was chased through the Portage Park neighborhood before being fatally shot by a CPD officer.
Both deaths were captured with body camera and surveillance footage, causing outrage and calls from Latino leaders for a moratorium on police foot pursuits. Their deaths also spurred mass protests across the city.
Toledo was the youngest person to be fatally shot by Chicago police in years.
Foxx’s office faced scrutiny over how it handled Toledo’s case last year. An attorney who worked under Foxx implied in court that the young boy was holding a gun when the officer shot him.
Foxx later apologized and acknowledged that neither she nor anyone in her office attempted to clear up this matter until right before video footage was released that disproved the claim.
Remember when a Cook County prosecutor was suspended for saying Adam Toledo had a gun in his hand as he turned toward the cop that shot him?— CWBChicago (@CWBChicago) March 15, 2022
The just-released @cookcountysao investigation of the shooting says Toledo had a gun in his hand as he turned toward the officer. 🤔🧐 pic.twitter.com/zyDstqnWaq
Video shows Toledo starting to run towards the officer, and in the process of putting his hands up, when the officer fired his weapon once, striking the teen in the chest.
It was made clear in the video that Toledo, who was in possession of a gun at the time either dropped the gun or tossed it less than a second before Officer Eric Stillman killed him.
Foxx said during her press conference that case law "recognizes that police officers are often forced to make split second decisions and judgements in circumstances that are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving."
"Based on the facts, the evidence and the law, we've concluded that there was no evidence to prove that Officer Stillman acted with criminal intent. Officer Stillman fired only one shot,” Foxx said.
A prosecutor says she won’t issue charges against two police officers in the shooting deaths of Adam Toledo, 13, and Anthony Alvarez, 22. The shootings occurred within days of each other in Chicago. https://t.co/XkxIGseBIM— The Associated Press (@AP) March 15, 2022
In the case of Alvarez, Foxx again pointed out that officers are “justified” in using force that can lead to death or great bodily harm when they reasonably believe it is for self-defense or defense of another person.
On March 31, 2021, Alvarez was at a gas station on the 3500 block of North Laramie Avenue when a police car drove in front of him. It is still unclear why the officers decided to approach the young man, but Alvarez dropped the food and drink in his hands and began running.
While fleeing, Alvarez collapsed onto the front sidewalk of a home on West Eddy Street. Body camera footage does show a gun in his right hand, but does not show Alvarez pointing it towards officers.
According to Foxx, Officer Evan Solano did not see Alvarez fall, and when he noticed him trying to stand up, he assumed the 22-year-old was “in a crouching position with a handgun waiting to ambush him.”
A federal lawsuit had been filed against the city, claiming that its failure to implement a foot-pursuit policy for the CPD was the catalyst behind Alvarez’s death.
Foxx addressed this in her announcement, saying that while there is not enough evidence to support criminal charges, it’s crucial to highlight that “the officers themselves created the conditions in which the use of deadly force became necessary.”
"First, it was unnecessary for the officers to stop and engage with Mr. Alvarez, who was walking through a gas station parking lot, holding food and drink. He was not committing any crimes that were readily apparent to the officers at the time,” Foxx said.
Roxana Figueroa, Anthony Alvarez's cousin, speaks out against the decision by Kim Foxx, the Cook County State’s Attorney, not to criminally charge CPD officer Evan Solano in Alvarez’s death. pic.twitter.com/AgS4Nh4Moe— LockharTVMedia (@LockharTVMedia) March 17, 2022
Attorneys representing the families of Alvarez and Toledo are extremely disappointed at the lack of justice.
“Officer [Eric] Stillman’s use of deadly force was excessive and posed a threat to the safety of Adam and others. We will be contacting the Department of Civil Rights Division to address this horrific travesty,” said attorneys Adeena Weiss Ortiz and Joel Hirschhorn in a statement.
Christopher Smith, a lawyer representing Alvarez's family, said the officers involved in the young man’s death deliberately made choices to “become the aggressors” and needlessly put everyone in a dangerous situation.
“This wasn’t a situation that needed to be escalated. Anthony Alvarez’s comment to the officer right after getting shot said it all. He asked him, ‘Why did you shoot me?’ It wasn’t a scenario where he was doing anything but trying to get away,” Smith told the New York Times.
In 2021, UnidosUS, the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, partnered with a group of researchers, scholars, activists and family members of Latinos killed by police.
In their report released last June, it was found that more than 2,600 Latinos were killed by police or died while in police custody in recent years.
“While the Washington Post reports that 1,058 Latinos were shot and killed by police over the 2015–2020 period, that number nearly doubles to 1,759 when all databases and all causes of death in police custody are included,” the report states.