Police kill two POC, Adam Toledo and Daunte Wright, causing protests

Protest in Logan Square, Chicago.

On March 29, Chicago police killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo, who was Latino. On April 11, police in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright, who was Black. The deaths of Toledo and Wright sparked protests across the country and calls to end police brutality against BIPOC. 

The graphic bodycam footage of Toledo’s death was released after Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the police superintendent demanded the video to be public. The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, a board that reviews all police shootings in Chicago, claimed that they could not release the video because Toledo was a minor, which would violate the Juvenile Court Act, an Illinois law. 

The officer who shot and killed Toledo was identified as Eric E. Stillman, a 34-year-old. He ordered Toledo to “stop right f------ now” after stating he was police. Toledo stopped running and turned to Stillman with his hands raised. Police say Toledo had a handgun in his possession before he was shot. Stillman told Toledo to show him his hands and drop the gun; prosecutors claimed Toledo had. 

Stillman then fired a single shot into Toledo’s chest, causing Toledo to collapse. Toledo was shot unarmed and with his hands in the air. Stillman called for an ambulance and began CPR, but Toledo was pronounced dead after the shooting. 

The video shows Toledo allegedly holding a gun behind his back, then discarding it behind a fence before the shooting. Afterward, Stillman was shown to be shining a light on the gun, which was on the ground. 

Police arrived at Toledo’s home on March 31. Toledo’s mother was informed of the shooting on March 31. She was asked to identify the body.

Lightfoot demanded police reform after Toledo’s death. Lightfoot called the video “excruciating” to watch. “As a mother who is deeply passionate about protecting our young people, we all must proceed with deep empathy and calm, and importantly, peace.” 

Tim Grace, Stillman’s attorney, claimed in an email that Toledo had a gun and turned to Stillman in a way that “could be interpreted as attempting to acquire a target.” Grace said that Stillman was faced with a “life-threatening and deadly force situation” and attempts to deescalate the scene failed.

Adeena Weiss-Ortiz, the attorney for Toledo’s family, said that Toledo did not have a gun at the time of the shooting. “If he had a gun, he tossed it,” Weiss-Ortiz said, which matches the events shown in the video.

Protests for Toledo occurred in Logan Square in the northwest side of Chicago. Hundreds of protestors attended and called for justice, along with Lightfoot to resign and the abolition of the police. 

Protests also took place in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago, where Toledo was from. Community groups handed out flowers to protestors, which became a memorial for Toledo.

Daunte Wright’s death was caught on bodycam footage as well. Police pulled Wright over for expired license plates. He was also pulled over for having an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror, which violated a Minnesota law that prohibited it. The officers found that Wright had a warrant for his arrest. 

Officers tried to handcuff Wright, but he broke free. An officer yelled “taser” three times, then shot Wright in the chest. 

Tim Gannon, then-chief of the Brooklyn Center Police Department said that the officer who shot Wright, who was later identified as Kim Potter, 48, mistook her taser for her gun. Officers are supposed to carry firearms on the dominant side of the body and tasers on the other side.

Wright’s mother was on the phone with Wright when he was pulled over. Wright’s mother heard the phone drop and “scuffling.” The call ended. When Wright’s mother called back, Wright’s girlfriend, who was in the car at the time, told his mother that Wright was shot. Wright’s girlfriend was injured, but none were life-threatening.

Gannon and Potter both resigned two days after the shooting. Potter was charged with second-degree manslaughter and faces up to 10 years in prison. The criminal complaint against Potter said that her gun was on her right side, with the taser on the left, accurate to what police are trained to do. According to the complaint,  Potter would have to use her left hand to pull out her taser, which is in a straight-draw position. The taser is also yellow in color, with a black grip.

Protests ensued in Brooklyn Center for several days. Police fired projectiles into crowds of protestors and curfews were given. A vigil was held for Wright, with his mother in attendance. Students in Brooklyn Center held a moment of silence for Wright, which was organized by Minnesota Teen Activists.

A large protest for Wright happened in New York, as demonstrators marched across the Manhattan Bridge. Smaller protests also took place in Kansas City, Omaha, Los Angeles, and Portland with others planned in Dallas and Atlanta.

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