WHITE House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the recently released footage of the police killing of 13-year-old Adam Toledo comes as a "chilling" reminder that US police often use "unnecessary force".
Psaki made the comments during a Friday morning press briefing, adding that she hadn't yet spoken to President Joe Biden and was therefore unsure if he'd seen the bodycam footage of the shooting or not.
🔵 Read our Adam Toledo live blog for the latest updates
“I will say for those of us who did watch that video, it is certainly chilling,” she told reporters on Friday.
“And a reminder that across the country there are far too communities where there is violence that is impacting… that too often in this country law enforcement uses unnecessary force, too often resulting in the death of Black and brown Americans.”
Eric Stillman, 34, has been identified as the officer responsible for shooting Toledo dead after a foot-chase in Chicago, on March 29.
Stillman is a five-year veteran of Chicago PD who had never before fired his weapon at someone in the line of duty.
Speaking to the shooting, Psaki reiterated Biden's support for the House-passed police reform bill, known as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which is currently stalled in the US Senate.
"The president, again, has repeatedly said that he believes we need police reform," Psaki said. "That's what he says he's calling for Congress to send to his desk."
Psaki added that the White House is watching closely to see how the independent investigation into Toledo's shooting plays out.
Stillman has been placed on administrative duty while that investigation is conducted.
The Chicago PD traditionally avoids naming officers involved in such shootings, however, Stillman's name, badge number, age, and race were all detailed in an investigation report released on Thursday.
Also released was body camera footage of the moment Stillman opened fire at Toledo, eight-tenths of a second after ordering him to put his hands up – a command the boy followed.
The footage has caused protests to erupt across the Windy City overnight, as Toledo appears to drop a handgun and place his hands in the air when Stillman discharges his firearm, fatally striking the boy once in the chest.
The officer is then seen performing chest compression on the young teen across a period of two minutes, but to no avail.
The officer's lawyer, Tim Grace, said Stillman “has served his country and his city with honor and deserves our support.”
Grace said Stillman was faced with a deadly, split-second decision and believed Toledo was armed.
“There is irrefutable evidence that the shell casings recovered from [the corner where Toledo and Roman were standing] match the handgun that was in the hands of the juvenile when he was tragically shot by the officer,” he said.
"[Stillman] was faced with a life-threatening and deadly force situation” and was “left with no other option” but to use his firearm, he said.
“The officer had no place to take cover or concealment, the gun was being [orientated] in his direction and he was left with no other option,” Grace reiterated.
From the time police said the gun was first visible on body-worn camera footage in Toledo’s hand, to the time the officer fired his weapon, was eight-tenths of a second.
Prosecutors had initially claimed Toledo had a gun in his right hand when he turned around to face Stillman, however, admitted on Thursday that the attorney who made the claim had "failed to fully inform himself".
Protests erupted in the Wind City on Thursday afternoon and into the night, with activists chanting "He was just a kid!".
Law enforcement are bracing for more demonstrations across Friday.
Amid the unrest, Adam Toledo's family have called for calm and peace.
“Adam’s memory can best be honored by refraining from violence and working constructively for reform," a statement issued through their attorneys said.
Most read in US News
WON’T TAKE STAND
Several law enforcement figures have also jumped to the defense of Stillman, with the head of the Chicago Police Union telling CNN last night that he was "100 percent justified" in gunning down Toledo and had acted "heroically".
Former Washington, D.C. Chief of Police and Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey also spoke to CNN on Thursday, calling the incident "tragic" but "reasonable".
Meanwhile, Adeena Weiss Ortiz, an attorney for the Toledo family, said they’re considering legal action against the officer.
“If you’re shooting an unarmed child with his arms in the air, it’s an assassination,” Ortiz told the Chicago Sun-Times.