Teen death focuses on momentary police decisions

It happened in less than a second.

13-year-old Adam Toledo dropped his gun, turned around, and began raising his hand as the policeman ordered. The policeman then fired a shot and killed the boy in a dark Chicago alley.

The country’s latest tragic touchstone of racial and police considerations, the graphic video puts the microscope on those momentary decisions with widespread and significant consequences. Investigators are still arranging exactly what happened, but why the shooting didn’t give the boy more time to follow and whether it could prevent a fatal encounter in the first place. Raised a difficult question.

“Our color community has been repeatedly blamed for these isolated cases or suspects. What do you say when you see the evidence for yourself? “Jose Lopez, Vice President of the League of United Latin American Citizens in the Midwest, said in a statement.

White police officer Eric Stillman responded to reports of shootings at Little Village, a predominantly Hispanic district on the southwestern side of the city, around 3 am on March 29. Walk down the alley for a few seconds and say, “Police! Stop! Stop now (curse)!”

Stillman shouts when the teens are late. hand! Show me your (swearing) hand! Then Toledo turns to the camera and Stillman shouts, “Drop!” And while repeating the command, he fires and Toledo collapses. Police found the gun next to a fence a short distance away after the shooting. Prosecutors earlier said a 21-year-old man in Toledo had fired a round that originally drew the attention of police officers.

The Cook County law firm decides whether Stillman, who has been on leave for 30 days, should be prosecuted. However, civilian deaths rarely accuse police of crimes, and juries win convictions because they are reluctant to guess police officers again when faced with a momentary decision. Is difficult-or-death situation.

The US Supreme Court said police officers’ fears of their lives in the heat of the moment were important, even if they later turned out not to be at risk. .. In a 1989 decision, Judge William Rehnquist said, “Calculus must take into account the fact that police officers are often forced to make momentary decisions about the amount of force required in a particular situation.” It is written that it formed a typical situation.

The brain takes about three-quarters of a second to respond to a perceived threat, said Chris Burbank, a former police chief of Salt Lake City, who now belongs to the Police Equity Center. After that, most police can pull a gun and fire two accurate bullets in 1.5 seconds, so an important part of the conflict can end in less than 3 seconds.

He said the decisions made during that short period could be influenced by a number of factors, including training, familiar circumstances, and structural prejudices such as racism. For example, black teens are often mistakenly perceived as older and more threatening than white teens.

Eugene O’Donnell, a former New York City police officer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a longtime professor of police research, may find it difficult to say exactly why police officers shot them after the fact. Said not.

“Fires are so rare in big cities that it’s always a shock to actually have to fire,” he said. “You talk to the cops after the shooting, many of them are blurry … the truth is that you may not even know why you fired.”

Often used “Show me your hand!” Commands can unintentionally accelerate conflicts. The movement of the obedience may initially look like the movement someone makes to launch an attack, said Von Kriem, a former police officer and director of the Force Science Institute’s consulting department. I am. Some law enforcement training circles have been concerned about how this phrase affects the situation since the mid-1990s, but it can be used without causing serious problems. Often.

But focusing on just a few moments of heat could miss the larger systematic question posed by the mourning community, a 13-year-old shooting lawyer by Utah police. Nathan Morris said. The boy, Linden Cameron, has autism and his mother called police last year to help handle the breakdown. Cameron is not armed. He survived the shot fired after being chased by a police officer.

“Are we doing the right thing by putting officers in situations that require a momentary decision?” Morris said. “Should they chase a 13-year-old child?”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Currently, she is demanding a new policy on foot tracking, which she called one of the most dangerous actions police officers can take. Some major cities have already taken action to limit foot tracking, but experts say it would be difficult to tell police not to stop someone with a gun.

Some shifts in police training could help, Burbank said. He has been trained by police officers and himself for years, and says that almost all law enforcement practice scenarios ended with shooting.

“A” shooting prohibited “scenario is required. When you don’t need to use force, you need to spend more time training than when you use it. And we don’t do that. “


Associated Press writer Michael R. Sisak contributed to this report.