The Cook County state’s attorney’s office is investigating how a veteran prosecutor ended up describing 13-year-old Adam Toledo as having a gun in his hand when he was shot by Chicago police even though body-camera footage appears to show the boy without a weapon when he was killed.
When describing the allegations against 21-year-old Ruben Roman — who was arrested at the scene of Adam’s shooting in Little Village — Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy told Judge Susana Ortiz that Toledo had a gun in his right hand a moment before he was shot by an officer.
“The officer tells [Adam] to drop it as [Adam] turns towards the officer. [Adam] has a gun in his right hand,” Murphy said, reading from the proffer on April 10. “The officer fires one shot at [Adam], striking him in the chest. The gun that [Adam] was holding landed against the fence a few feet away.”
The proffer matches a portion of what the video of the deadly March 29 shooting shows, but it doesn’t note that Adam dropped his weapon and had his hands up in the air less than a second before the officer fired the shot.
Chicago media outlets, including the Chicago Sun-Times, reported that Murphy was indicating that Adam had a gun in his hand when he was shot.
State’s attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Sinovic declined to comment Friday on why it took the office five days to say that Murphy did not “fully inform himself” before Ruben’s bond hearing.
“An attorney who works in this office failed to fully inform himself before speaking in court,” the statement issued Thursday said. “Errors like that cannot happen and this has been addressed with the individual involved. The video speaks for itself.”
The state’s attorney’s office does not believe Murphy lied or knowingly presented inaccurate information, Sinovic stressed Friday. But she said that the office is concerned that the information Murphy presented in court wasn’t clear.
Murphy “did not make it clear at what point [Adam] didn’t have the gun,” Sinovic said.
“Something was presented as fact when it was still under investigation.”
Sinovic wouldn’t say whether Murphy would face disciplinary action over that omission.
Murphy declined to comment Friday.
Before Ruben’s bond hearing, Murphy had not seen the security camera video that appears to show Adam tossing the gun behind a fence before he was shot, Sinovic said.
She declined to say if that footage was available to the state’s attorney’s office at the time of the hearing.
“It’s still under investigation what videos were available to [Murphy],” Sinovic said. “We’re still trying to figure out what he had access to when he made the the statements in court.”
Two sources with knowledge of the investigation told the Chicago Sun-Times that Murphy’s proffer had not been approved or read by anyone else in the state’s attorney’s office before it was presented before a judge.
Sinovic would not discuss the office’s policy’s on the approval process of proffers but said the office is investigating whether Murphy’s superiors signed off on the proffer.
Ruben is charged with reckless discharge of a firearm, unlawful use of a weapon, child endangerment and violating probation.