Eric Stillman is named in police reports as the Chicago police officer who shot and killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo.
The Chicago Civilian Office of Police Accountability on April 15, 2021, released graphic police body cam videos that show Stillman shooting Toledo. You can watch the videos later in this story, but be aware that they are very graphic.
Stillman’s name is contained in voluminous reports released in the interest of transparency. The release of the videos is already causing furious controversy online. A gun was recovered at the scene, near a fence, and it appears from the videos that Toledo tossed the gun behind a fence before raising his hands as he was shot. It all happened in a split second. However, one video shows the gun lying a short ways down past the opening in the fence, not at the opening. People are expressing outrage online because of freeze frames showing Toledo with his hands up. According to ABC7, police say that the gun “is visible in one frame in Toledo’s right hand, down at his side” in the videos.
The officers had responded to a shots fired call when the foot chase ignited. According to Block Club Chicago, another video shows Toledo with Ruben Roman, 21, who is accused of firing shots “at a target that is out of view.” Shortly thereafter, the officer starts chasing Toledo. It was 2:37 a.m.
The shooting remains under investigation, and the mayor and family have pleaded for calm. All of the videos and documents released in the shooting death so far can be found here.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Stillman, Who Served in the Military & Received a Commendation But Also Some Complaints, Joined the Chicago Police Department in 2015
According to the Citizens Police Data Project, Eric Stillman is a white male with the rank of police officer who has a base salary of $72,510. He is 34 years old. He has been on the force since August 2015.
He has no complaints on his record, the database information originally showed. However, according to the Invisible Institute, which runs the database, they are updating the database to show as 3 complaints and 4 use of force reports between 2017 and mid-2020. Here are the complaints:
CLEAR: 04D: Search – Person / Property
– 10/11/2018, 7:30 PM, beat 1023 (“Hospital building/grounds”)
– Finding of “Unfounded”
CMS: Fourth Amendment/Improper Search (Off-Duty)
– 11/29/2019, 9:20 AM, beat 1021
– One of three accused officers
– Civilian complaint: “Complainant alleges that he was illegally stopped and searched during a traffic stop. Complainant alleges that he did not give officers permission to search his vehicle. Complainant noted that accused officers claimed that the stop was due to obstruction of view (complainant had cellphone mount on windshield). He alleges that one of the officers was verbally aggressive and rude. Complainant also alleges that accused officers did not activate BWC until after he asked officers “is this being recorded?”, which he alleges was approximately 7 minutes after initial stop.”
– Investigation pending, no finding
CMS: Fourth Amendment/Improper Search
– 10/28/2020, beat 1021
– Only accused officer
– Civilian complaint: “the accused officer allegedly unlawfully searched the R/P’s vehicle during a traffic stop. The accused allegedly removed a small razor that the R/P had inside his vehicle.”
– “Closed/No Finding”
The use of force reports are as follows.
390743 – December 4 2017
– Beat 1011A
– Takedown/Emergency Handcuffing, Other
790629 – December 27 2018
– Beat 1067B
– Wristlock, Takedown/Emergency Handcuffing, Open Hand Strike
869491 – February 05 2019
– Beat 1067B
– Wristlock, Takedown/Emergency Handcuffing, Open Hand Strike, Escort Holds
1500757 – May 14 2019
– Beat 1067C
– No member action listed
Stillman has received one major award and eight honorable mentions, the records show.
The records show that he received a “military service award” and “superintendent’s award of valor.”
Read the incident report naming Stillman here.
His lawyer, Tim Grace, told Block Club Chicago that Stillman “has worked in some of the toughest neighborhoods in the city and served his country honorably overseas.”
2. The Original Case Report Lists Stillman, Who Was Born in American Samoa, as a ‘Victim’
The original case incident report lists Eric E. Stillman as a “victim” in the Toledo shooting.
The report gives some biographical information about Stillman, indicating that he was born in American Samoa (Islands), United States Of America. Mortgage records say he’s unmarried.
ABC7 described Stillman as a “10th district patrol officer.”
Grace, Stillman’s lawyer, told Block Club Chicago: “I do not think he will be prosecuted for a crime, and I do believe that if COPA and the Police Department are fair and look at the undisputed evidence, he will be exonerated of any type of a charge.” The site reported that Grace “maintained Toledo was holding a gun at the moment he was shot, despite video evidence to the contrary.”
The site quoted Grace as saying, “He has a gun in his right hand. There’s no doubt in the world that he has a gun in his right hand.”
3. The Videos Are Causing a Firestorm Online
The videos appear to show Toledo dropping or otherwise getting rid of a gun and raising his hands when he was shot. Police said previously that they recovered a 9MM Ruger along a fence near the shooting, and they released a photo of it.
The video starts with the foot chase. Stillman yells, “Hey show me your f***ing hands, drop it.” According to ABC 7, Stillman says Toledo “did not follow verbal directions, fled, used significant force and was armed with a semiautomatic pistol. Stillman shot the teenager once in the chest, saying that he was in danger because the suspect had a gun.”
This surveillance video shows the shooting from a farther distance.
Here’s a zoomed in version.
The videos are somewhat at a distance and it all happens quickly, but others also believe that Toledo had just dropped the weapon when shot. The Chicago Tribune’s Jason Meisner also wrote of a second video in the release batch: “Surveillance video released today appears to show Adam Toledo toss a gun (later recovered) beside a fence and turn toward the officer as he gets shot. It all happens in a second.”
“A 13-year-old boy appears to have dropped a gun and raised his hands just before a Chicago Police officer fatally shot him,” Fox40 reported.
The shooting occurred in March, 2021, in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago.
4. Stillman Appears Distraught in the Body Cam Videos, Sitting Down Next to a Fence After Trying to Give Toledo CPR
Stillman appears distraught in the body cam videos after resuscitation fails. He stands silently and then sits down along a fence. Those are the scenes captured in the imagery at the top of this article. They are also captured in the above video, which, again, is graphic.
Grace told Block Club Chicago that Stillman “absolutely broken up over the fact that he had to use deadly force.”
He added, “There is a callous disregard for the well-being of the officers who do not want to use deadly force ever. There has been no intellectual curiosity at all about what this officer is going through.”
The videos also show him trying to do CPR.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot held a news conference in advance of the video release to plead for calm. “Look, I don’t want to get into the real substance of this because the independent investigation is going on, but I’ve seen no evidence whatsoever that Adam Toledo shot at the police,” Lightfoot said in the news conference. She called the videos “incredibly difficult to watch.”
You can watch all of the videos here and obtain investigative case reports at the website as well. The caption with the released videos and documents says, “This post includes all relevant video, audio and Chicago Police Department records in COPA’s possession that are required to be released related to use of force in this fatal officer-involved shooting and the events immediately following it.” Be forewarned that the videos are extremely graphic as some of them show officers performing CPR on Toledo.
Outrage spread quickly on Twitter in some corners, but others pointed out the split-second between Toledo appearing to have the gun and then his hands being empty.
Others also believed you could see Toledo dropping the gun before raising his hand as the officer fires with it all happening in a split second.
Toledo’s family issued a joint statement with the mayor asking people to respond peacefully to the videos’ release. “Yesterday, the City of Chicago’s Corporation Counsel, Celia Meza, met with Adeena Weiss Ortiz and Joel Hirschhorn, legal representatives for the Toledo family,” the statement read. “Based on the Civilian Office of Police Accountability’s announcement that it will be releasing the videos, both parties agree that all material should be released, including a slowed-down compilation of the events of March 29 that resulted in the tragic death of 13-year-old Adam Toledo.”
5. A Prosecutor Initially Said Toledo Had a Gun in His Hand But the Office Now Says That’s Inaccurate
According to WGN-TV, Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy made the comment about the gun in a proffer presented during a bond hearing for a 21-year-old man who was with Toledo the night he was shot.“The officer tells [Toledo] to drop it as [Toledo] turns towards the officer. [Toledo] has a gun in his right hand,” he wrote.
WGN sought more information and is now reporting that the state’s attorney’s office “says the detail about Adam having a gun in his hand the moment he was shot was inaccurate.”
COPA wrote in a news release that the videos were the same as those reviewed by Toledo’s family.
According to Block Club Chicago, another video shows Toledo with Ruben Roman, 21, who is accused of firing shots “at a target that is out of view.” Shortly thereafter, the officer starts chasing Toledo.