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Latino groups want DOJ probe of Adam Toledo shooting by Chicago police

"Only a thorough investigation...can bring a semblance of faith and trust" to the Latino community, said Arturo Jáuregui, of the Pilsen Law Center.
Abigail Garcia, 7, right, takes a knee with her mother Judith Garcia and other protestors during a peaceful protest on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 in downtown Chicago.Shafkat Anowar / AP

Latino community leaders and attorneys are asking the Department of Justice to investigate the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo by a Chicago police officer.

The groups, who held a press conference on Tuesday, also urged that Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot speed up court-supervised changes to policing in Chicago, end foot pursuits by officers, and invest federal Covid relief dollars to help young people in the neighborhood where Toledo lived and died.

Leaders calling for changes include the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, the Puerto Rican Bar Association of Illinois, the American Bar Association's Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights & Responsibilities, and the Pilsen Law Center, where the press conference took place.

"Only a thorough investigation conducted by the Justice Department designed to create clear policies and procedures to govern policing tactics in the community can bring a semblance of faith and trust from the Latino Community," Arturo Jáuregui, an attorney at Pilsen Law Center, stated at the conference and in a press release.

The center expressed Saturday via social media that the "legal system must act in a just and fair manner and rise to the occasion to ensure that the Toledo Family has justice."

Officer Eric Stillman was responding to a call of shots fired in the early morning hours of March 29 when he chased Toledo into a dark alley in the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Little Village. Bodycam video released last week shows Toledo appeared to drop a handgun and begin raising his hands less than a second before Stillman fires his gun and kills him. His bodycam footage later shows Stillman shining a light on a handgun on the ground near the boy after he shot him.

Stillman is white and Toledo was Latino. The video spurred prompted grief and demonstrations in the city and came against the backdrop of a trial in Minneapolis for former Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd and of another killing of a Black man, Daunte Wright, by a white officer in a Minneapolis suburb.

Lightfoot has said the city must allow its independent review agency to complete its investigation, but that she understands “that the surge of outrage around it is rooted in a long legacy of trauma in our city and country around police violence.”

Chicago agreed to hundreds of changes in policing under a consent decree approved by a federal judge in 2019 after a Justice Department investigation found a record of racism and abuse by Chicago police, going back decades. The investigation was prompted by the 2014 killing of Laquan McDonald, a Black 16-year-old, by a white officer. Jason VanDyke was later convicted of murder for shooting the teen 16 times, video of which the city fought to suppress.

An independent monitor’s report last month showed the city has made some progress on putting changes in place, but that significant work remains undone.

Lightfoot said last week she wants the police department to enact a new foot pursuit policy before summer.

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