The police bodycam footage showing the shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago on March 29 has finally been released. However, the video posted by CBS News has created a controversy over the death of a young boy. The footage released on the CBS Twitter channel appears to be edited in such a way to remove the final moments before shooting. These crucial seconds – left out by the news outlet – appear to show Toledo with a gun.
The question now being asked is whether this was an intentional edit to further community violence in a time when protests and lootings are already taking place in many areas of the country or whether it was an unintentional error caused by processing the video for sharing.
In the early hours of March 29, police responded to reports of shots fired, finding two youngsters on the scene. Toledo, and 21-year-old Ruben Roman, then began running and officers pursued. An officer chases Toledo down an alley and demands that the boy shows his hands. Toldeo is then shot and killed.
The footage (both original and edited) show that Toledo was not holding the gun when he was shot. However, it is believed that he dropped the weapon – which was found just several feet away – at some point during the incident.
Another curious aspect of CBS reportage concerns the officer’s verbal exchange with Toledo. In a report published on April 15, the media outlet quotes the officer’s words as:
“Stop! Stop right f—ing now! Hands! Show me your f—ing hands!”
However, the officer actually says:
“Stop! Stop right f—ing now! Hands! Show me your f—ing hands! Drop it! Drop It!”
A significant difference.
Gun or No Gun
Ryan Saavedra of The Daily Wire put out a tweet showing different versions of the footage and still shots that seem to look like Toledo holding a firearm moments before being shot. Minutes later the firearm was found roughly five feet away.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been measured in her response to questions from the press, saying, “I call for peace. I call for justice. But I also call for non-violence.” She has so far refused to comment on whether the recovered gun was in Toledo’s possession before he was shot but emphasized at many points that “We failed Adam” and that gun crime was a scourge.“We have too many damn guns on our streets.”
The reporting of this tragedy has raised more questions than it has answered. As cities across America face riots under the banner of “police killings,” it seems more necessary than ever for media outlets to report the truth without bias nor omission.
Whether accidental, purposeful, or technical in nature, selective editing is ripe soil for conspiracy theories that propagate rumor and inevitably provoke violence. Until the facts are fully known, a responsible press should be wary of creating discord through poor journalistic practices.
Read more from Mark Angelides.