Family of boy killed by officer consider building Wisconsin home for at-risk teens

CHICAGO (AP) – Family members of a 13-year-old boy fatally shot by a Chicago police officer on Wednesday announced plans to build a house in countryside Wisconsin where at-risk boys could go to escape danger streets of the city.

Adam Toledo’s mother stood in front of a mural of his son that was recently painted in the Little Village neighborhood where he was killed on March 29. She lamented that while she couldn’t be with her son on Wednesday what would have been his 14th birthday, maybe she could help save others like him.

“What I really want is for Adam to come back, and we can’t do that,” Betty Toledo wrote in a speech that was read by someone else because she was too emotional to speak. . “We can try to help other families protect their sons from the temptations that brought Adam to the streets that night, the night he was killed.

The family also hinted at the portrayal of Adam’s life that has been part of the narrative shortly after his death, when Mayor Lori Lightfoot appeared to suggest the boy was involved in gangs.

“The gangs prey on our most vulnerable, corrupting these young minds with promises of familia and profit,” she said at a press conference in which she asked the police to find out how the boy had obtained the gun that the police said he carried until just before he was shot.

The shooting gained national attention and brought new scrutiny to the Chicago Police Department’s use of force policy, especially after the release of the video which shows the boy was not holding a gun. at the time he was shot. On Wednesday, the ministry said it was implementing a new policy that significantly limits when officers are allowed to prosecute suspects on foot.

But it was on the boy’s short life that Toledo’s family and others focused on Wednesday. While Lightfoot and others suggested the boy was attracted to gangs, the family also wanted to know that he was a curious little boy who lived to play with his younger brother, loved animals, made jokes and told his mother not to worry.

“He was a small child, he made a mistake, and everyone judges him and takes charge of the last moments and minutes of his life,” said Esmeralda Toledo, the boy’s 24-year-old sister. No one, she said, “deserves the way he died or the bad negative things that are said about him.”

Family attorney Joel Hirschhorn said Wednesday’s announcement had to be delayed a short time because the artist and the family wanted to paint over what “a cowardly evil person” had scrawled on the wall. mural.

Hirschhorn said donations have already arrived and he has signed a contract to purchase approximately 71 acres in Potosi, southwestern Wisconsin, including a small barn, a facility the boys can sleep in and land to cultivate and raise livestock. Inspired by Boys Farm in South Carolina, Hirschhorn said the plan was to “get these marginalized and at-risk young boys out of harm’s way, where gangs, guns and violence take over” and put them in a dangerous state. safe environment where they can learn about agriculture and violence. “work as a team.”

Authorities said a gun detection alerted police to a location where a gun had been repeatedly fired. When they arrived, an officer spotted the boy and the man they said fired the gun, and chased them.

They said Toledo, who apparently received the gun by the man after firing it, rushed down an alley. The body camera video showed part of the foot chase and the moment when Officer Eric Stillman shot down Toledo in the chest within a second of falling or throwing the gun aside.

The Civil Police Accountability Office (COPA), which reviews police shootings, is continuing its investigation. Spokesman Ephraim Eaddy said on Wednesday he could not comment on the investigation and no recommendation regarding Stillman had been made. Stillman was placed on clerical duty and in what Eddy called an unusual move, the council recommended that Stillman’s working time be extended by 30 days.

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