A day after Cook County prosecutors partially disavowed statements they made in court about the police killing of 13-year-old Adam Toledo, the office declined to elaborate on what exactly went wrong and why.
But the assistant state’s attorney who made the statements was placed on leave Friday, a spokeswoman for the office confirmed Saturday morning.
The statement in question had been distributed widely for nearly a week before a spokeswoman for State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office on Thursday said that while the facts stated in court were correct, the prosecutor, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy, should not have phrased them in a way that could imply Toledo was armed at the exact moment he was shot.
The sudden announcement backing away from Murphy’s in-court description of the shooting came less than an hour before footage of Toledo’s March 29 death was made public, sowing confusion and further anger during an already tense afternoon.
Watched in aggregate, the videos show Toledo apparently tossing a gun away a moment before the officer fires, and his hands appear empty and raised at the moment he is shot.
After requests on Friday for an interview with a spokesperson or someone familiar with the matter, spokeswoman Sarah Sinovic said that for now they would reiterate the statement they provided the day before, and noted that the matter is undergoing an internal investigation.
“An attorney who works in this office failed to fully inform himself before speaking in court,” the statement reads. “Errors like that cannot happen and this has been addressed with the individual involved. The video speaks for itself.”
In an email to staffers late Friday that was obtained by the Tribune, Foxx said the prosecutor in court “relayed facts to the judge regarding details of the circumstances related to the death based on evidence provided by various law enforcement agencies.”
“It later became evident that the language ... did not fully reflect all the evidence that had been given to our office,” she wrote.
Still unclear: How many people in the prosecutor’s office had access to footage of the shooting; how much footage they could access; who signed off on the language Murphy used in court; and why they waited nearly a week before clarifying their statement.
The statement in question, known as a proffer, was given in court March 10 during a bond hearing for Ruben Roman, the 21-year-old man who was with Toledo the night of the shooting.
Roman is charged with felonies including child endangerment, and in order to bolster their assertion that Roman’s acts helped lead to Toledo’s death, Murphy gave a description of the shooting.
Toledo had a gun in his right hand as he turned toward the officer, Murphy said. “The officer fires one shot at (Toledo), striking him in the chest. The gun that (Toledo) was holding landed against the fence a few feet away.”
While each of those sentences in isolation appear to be supported by the video, prosecutors did not mention in court that at the precise moment Toledo was shot, his hands were apparently empty.
And immediately after Murphy gave his narrative of the shooting in court, news accounts stated prosecutors said 13-year-old Toledo was holding the weapon at the precise moment a Chicago police officer shot him.
The state’s attorney’s office did not dispute or question those stories for nearly a week.
Foxx came into office in 2016 after harshly criticizing predecessor Anita Alvarez’s handling of another high-profile police shooting of a teen: the death of Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by a police officer later charged and convicted in the case.
Throughout her first and into her second term, Foxx’s office has repeatedly stressed their commitment to transparency.