Our neighborhood — Little Village, La Villita, South Lawndale… it depends on who you ask — has been spotlighted more than usual during these times. Sometimes for really good things, sometimes for truly tragic things. Like the death of a young teenager, Adam Toledo. You all may or may not recognize the name. It is the name of the 13-year-old boy who was shot by the police. He was shot in my city, Chicago, in my neighborhood, Little Village, just two blocks away from my home.
It was around 2:30 a.m. in the morning on March 29, 2021. The same shooting was reported by multiple people; roughly 6 shots directed to cars driving by on Sawyer and 24th. Two cops were sent to the crime scene. They pulled up into the alley between 23rd and 24th, and quickly jumped out of the car. They ran down the alley, towards the two people there; the older one walking casually (pretending to be guilty of nothing) and the younger one running.
The policeman who was driving shoved the young adult to the ground and continued running after the teen, who was carrying a gun. The policewoman, the driver’s partner, kept the man on the ground and handcuffed him.
The policeman strode after the boy, shouting, screaming even, for him to stop. Almost at the end of the alley, the boy slowed down and quickly threw the gun behind the fence. He had begun to lift his hands and turn to face the policeman when a bullet from the officer’s gun shot out, piercing Adam Toledo’s chest, and the boy collapsed to the ground.
The officer went over to him and turned him over, looking for the wound. He called several other officers, and they arrived momentarily. The officer began CPR as the other cops knelt beside Adam, saying encouragement like, “Stay with us, big guy.”
Another officer took the policeman’s place, doing CPR on the boy. The policeman stood and began slowly wandering around, and the loudest sound heard by the cop’s body cam was his heavy breathing. His wanderings led him a bit around the alley and through an opening in the gate to the parking lot of Farragut High School. For a while he stood in the parking lot, just breathing. His partner walked up to him and rubbed his arm. After several minutes, she suggested that he sit down and then they get a drink of water from the squad car. He sat down on a concrete parking block and sat there for a while, his partner standing beside him. At some point the sergeant stood beside him as well. It was evident: Adam Toledo had died.
Then came the order for all the officers to turn off their body cams because the situation was secure, and…
And that was it. Our city is in uproar. Several marches and protests have occurred because of Adam’s death. Many voices and opinions fill the air. What do we make of this?
With God’s help,
Daniel L. Amador
Credit to Daniel L. Amador for all photos in this blog post.