CHICAGO (WLS) -- Just a few weeks before the one-year anniversary of two fatal Chicago police shootings, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx said the officers who shot and killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 22-year old Anthony Alvarez will not face criminal charges.
"This is a sober announcement as there are no winners in this very tragic situation," Foxx said.
Toledo was shot and killed by CPD Officer Eric Stillman in the Little Village neighborhood on March 29, 2021.
Bodycam video showed Stillman and the 13-year-old running down an alley around 2:30 a.m. Video released by COPA appeared to show Toledo dropping the gun by a fence. Less than a second after the officer ordered the teen to drop the gun, Stillman fired, striking Adam Toledo in the chest.
"Officer Stillman reacted to the perceived threat presented by Adam Toledo, who he believed at the time was turning toward him to shoot him," Foxx said.
Attorneys for Adam's family said in a statement, in part: "Despite that decision, we will continue fighting for Adam and have filed our civil complaint seeking monetary damages against Officer Stillman and the City of Chicago in our effort to get justice for Adam and the Toledo family. Officer Stillman's use of deadly force was excessive and posed a threat to the safety of Adam and others."
Days later, Anthony Alvarez, 22, was shot and killed by CPD Officer Evan Solano in the Portage Park neighborhood on March 31, 2021. He was walking through a gas station parking lot when he encountered police on foot, and Foxx said he was not committing a crime at the time.
Video shows Officer Solano running after Alvarez, shouting at him to drop the weapon, and then Alvarez dropping the weapon as he fell to the ground after Solano shot him twice. An autopsy revealed he was shot in the back and the thigh.
Foxx made the announcement Tuesday afternoon, nearly a year after the shootings, saying prosecutors concluded they could not meet the necessary burden of proof.
"Police officers are often forced to make split second decisions and judgments in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving," Foxx said.
But Foxx said that mistakes were made by police that led to use of deadly force in the Alvarez case.
"It is important to highlight that the officers themselves created the conditions which the use of deadly force became necessary," Foxx said.
Foxx added that evidence showed that a foot pursuit of Alvarez was not necessary at the time. Officer Solano may have also committed several foot pursuit police violations, which Foxx said "may have further exacerbated the conditions that led to this deadly encounter."
"Despite this, this, the law for us to charge a criminal case is based on the reasonable belief of imminent death or great bodily harm at the time of the shooting," Foxx said. "The burden of proof in a criminal case is much different from the burden of proof used to determine whether policy violations will lead to adverse employment consequences."
Foxx said that decision will be made by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.
Expressing their disappointment, the family of the young father said, in part, "Family members are committed in their efforts to bring justice for Anthony, which includes holding the Chicago Police officers involved in the shooting accountable for their actions. We hope that Kim Foxx and her office continues their investigation into the reckless and inexcusable conduct of Officer Evan Solano."
An attorney for the Alvarez family said in a statement: "I do not believe for a split second that Anthony posed any type of risk of harm to the officers on March 31, 2021...He was visibly frightened from the way they approached him at the gas station with their vehicle and was trying to run away."
Alvarez's family has filed a federal lawsuit in connection with his death.
Both deadly police shootings in the spring of 2021 sparked outrage in the Latino community, garnering calls for a suspension of foot pursuits and the implementation of a new foot pursuit policy by CPD.
"We were shocked and outraged Kim Foxx didn't file any charges," said Little Village Community Council president Baltazar Enriquez. "She claimed there wasn't enough evidence, but evidence is there, black and white."
Now nearly a year later, activists said they're still feeling the sting of these deadly shootings and struggling in the fight for changes in policing.
"The city is sending a clear message that the immunity the police department has, where you can kill anybody and go free," Enriquez said.
Alvarez and Martinez family statement:
Family members are committed in their efforts to bring justice for Anthony, which includes holding the Chicago Police officers involved in the shooting accountable for their actions. We hope that Kim Foxx and her office continues their investigation into the reckless and inexcusable conduct of Officer Evan Solano.
Statement from Alvarez family attorney:
I do not believe for a split second that Anthony posed any type of risk of harm to the officers on March 31, 2021...He was visibly frightened from the way they approached him at the gas station with their vehicle and was trying to run away.
Statement from Toledo family attorneys
We are profoundly disappointed, as is the Toledo family, to learn that the Cook County State's Attorney has declined to prosecute Officer Eric Stillman. Despite that decision, we will continue fighting for Adam and have filed our civil complaint seeking monetary damages against Officer Stillman and the City of Chicago in our effort to get justice for Adam and the Toledo family. Officer Stillman's use of deadly force was excessive and posed a threat to the safety of Adam and others. We will be contacting the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division to address this horrific travesty.
Adam obeyed the police officer's commands, stopped running, had his hands up in the surrender position, and was nevertheless shot and killed by Officer Stillman. Despite the painful loss of Adam, the Toledo family continues to call for peace on the streets of Chicago as they pursue justice through the court system.
Statement from Fraternal Order of Police attorney Tim Grace, who represents Officers Stillman and Solano:
We are happy the Cook County State's Attorney recognized the difficult job police officers have and that the offenders who fail to comply to commands put officers in a difficult position to use deadly to protect themselves. We feel for the Alvarez and the Toledo families but it is also an officer's job is to come home safe.
Statement from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot
Every shooting death in our city-every loss of life-is a tragedy. The loss of Adam Toledo and Anthony Alvarez remains tragic and painful for their families, loved ones, and friends. We must continue to support the families of Adam Toledo, Anthony Alvarez, and their respective communities as they continue to grieve. Keeping their communities, as well as the rest of Chicago safe, remains the top priority for me and my administration. However, in order to accomplish this, trust must be a two-way street between our residents and our officers. This trust is vital to their safety and the safety of entire communities. Following today's announcement by the Cook County State's Attorney's Office regarding their Office's evaluation of criminal charges related to the shooting deaths of Adam Toledo and Anthony Alvarez, that work to build that trust continues, in partnership with the Chicago Office for Police Accountability and our Chicago Police Department. As part of our commitment to reform, over the past year, we have implemented a new foot pursuit policy and have begun working alongside community partners and the City Council to create the new civilian police oversight body. But there remains much more to do.