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Chicago Police Union head calls Adam Toledo shooting 'justified,' says 'officer's actions actually heroic'

The head of the Chicago Police Union on Thursday said that the shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo was “justified” and called the officer’s actions “heroic.”

The remarks from Chicago Police Union President John Catanzara came hours after Chicago’s Office of Civilian Police Accountability released bodycam footage of the March 29 incident.

The footage raised questions as to whether Toledo actually had a gun in his hand before he was shot, as police have claimed. A gun is not clearly visible in Toledo’s hand in the video that was released.

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In an appearance on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time,” Catanzara said that the officer’s actions were “100 percent justified.”

“I started my dissertation by saying it is 100 percent justified. That officer’s actions were actually heroic,” he said. “There’s a very good reason he only shot once. Like I said, he could have been shot multiple times but the officer assessed in a split second.

“Unfortunately, he already committed to the first shot, justifiably so.” 

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The video released Thursday showed the officer chasing Toledo down an alleyway while yelling “stop right f------ now” before Toledo stops at a large gap in wooden fencing.

The officer is then heard yelling “show me your f------ hands,” and Toledo is seen turning to the officer with both hands raised. The officer then yells “drop it” twice before shooting Toledo in the chest once. There was no gun clearly visible in his hand in the bodycam video.

Officers are then seen rendering aid to Toledo.

Catanzara said the officer had less than one second to determine whether Toledo had the gun and shoot.

“Time lapse photos show that the officer had 8/10ths of a second to determine if that weapon was still in his hands or not,” Catanzara said. “There's no way a rational person can say they can process that and their muscle reaction would be less than one second.”

Democratic lawmakers called for justice following the release of the bodycam video on Thursday.

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin said on Twitter: “Adam Toledo was a seventh grader at Gary Elementary School in Little Village. His whole life was ahead of him. My heart breaks for his family and friends, who are grieving the loss of his young life.”

“Far too many Black and Brown men and women have lost their lives to brutal acts of racial injustice," he continued. "All the evidence shows that we are dealing with a system of justice that isn’t being applied equally—and we need to change that."

The incident is raising new calls for police reform, as it comes during the ongoing murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged in the death of George Floyd that sparked nationwide protests last summer.

It also comes shortly after the high-profile police killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minn., last weekend.