The president of the Chicago police union has called the police officer who shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo “heroic” and defended the officer’s actions in the wake of newly released bodycam footage.
John Catanzara, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, spoke to CNN‘s Cuomo Prime Time on Thursday following the release of the video that appeared to show Toledo was not holding a weapon when he was shot.
Catanzara highlighted the short time involved in the officer’s decision to shoot Toledo.
“In reality, an average human being could not block someone from slapping him in the face in less time than that,” Catanzara said.
“It’s a good reason why the officer only shot once. He would have been justified to shoot multiple times.”
“What do you think the officers who responded to that scene and were rendering aid and trying to save his life are now stuck with for the rest of their life?” Catanzara went on.
“And they got to bring that home to their families, and then their families are affected by this,” he said.
“The poor young kid misguided made a horrible decision that cost him his life, but it was justified,” Catanzara said. He claimed Toledo was a member of a gang called the Latin Kings. This has not been established but the area where Toledo was shot is a stronghold of the gang, according to The Chicago Sun-Times.
“I will say, he’s 13 years old,” Catanzara said. “We talk about the public school system in Chicago specifically. He should have been in school. But we’re not in school learning, now are we?”
“I started my dissertation with saying it is 100 percent justified,” Catanzara said in response to a comment from Cuomo.
“That officer’s actions were actually heroic. There’s a very good reason why he only shot once. Like I said, he could have been shot multiple times but the officer assessed in a split second. Unfortunately he committed to the first shot already. Justifiably so.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Toledo’s family called for calm ahead of the release of the bodycam footage on Thursday.
“Simply put, we failed Adam,” Lightfoot said. “And we cannot afford to fail one more young person in our city.”
“We live in a city that is traumatized by a long history of police violence and misconduct,” she said. “So while we don’t have enough information to be the judge and jury of this particular situation, it is certainly understandable why so many of our residents are feeling that all too familiar surge of outrage and pain.”
The video has led to calls for systemic reform to policing in the U.S. and the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which was approved by the House of Representatives but has not yet been passed by the Senate.
Newsweek has asked Catanzara for comment on this article.