When and Where Do Lives Matter?

Adam Toledo's life mattered and it mattered enough for the adults around him to keep him off the streets.

For all we hear about lives mattering, we don't hear much about when they matter or where they matter.

After watching multiple recordings of police body cam footage and security footage of the lot and alley where the tragedy took place, I wondered when and where Adam Toledo’s life mattered. The armed 13-year old was running around in an alley at 2:30 a.m. with an armed 21 year-old prohibited possessor when police were called after reports of gunfire. Body cam footage shows one officer responding and pursuing Toledo down the alley. The officer orders him to stop, then to “drop it.” Toledo runs to an opening in the fenced alley, we see a gun in his hand for a split second, on his dominant right side facing away from the cop. He appears to drop the gun behind the fence and turn, something we can’t see from our body cam perspective, which means neither can the cop, and turns — the cop has a split second to make a decision: bet on this suspect no longer being armed as his body and dominant right hand, the hand in which he appeared to have a gun?

The suspect was tall, the officer had no way of telling the suspect’s aged in a dark alley, as if that would matter. A 13 year-old can shoot and kill a cop the same as an adult. The cop fired, Toledo’s hands seem to come up on impact, and he falls to the ground.

I poured over every detail of every scrap of footage I could find before TV tonight. It was difficult to watch a 13 year-old get shot multiple times, over and over, from different angles. It was difficult to hear the pleading tone in the cop’s voice as he immediately rushed to Toledo and began CPR. Even more so when we, the audience watching through his body camera on his left side, hear his sobs as he stands to compose himself in an empty parking lot while EMTs take over behind him. He walks over and sits on a concrete parking bumper, his arms outstretched before him, and continues sobbing. In another recording from a different officer’s body camera the female officer walks by him, placing a hand on his back. It’s a grim and difficult situation for everyone there.

Not every police shooting is the same. Not every cop who fires his or her gun is poorly trained. Kimberly Potter is not this officer. I echo Leo Terrell’s remarks from our discussion on Hannity tonight, this was a justified shooting.

What isn’t justified is whatever kind of life Adam Toledo was exposed to that led to him, a 13 year-old child, being in a dark alley, armed, in the middle of the night with an armed adult criminal. This isn’t “Mad Max,” although it is Chicago. He reportedly sought the family and friend structure he lacked in the neighborhood’s gang. Kids like Toledo thing the gang is their family, a group they can trust, but the gang just uses them. The family disputes this.

If lives matter, why didn’t Adam Toledo’s life matter enough for him to be kept off the streets?

I have teens. I know what it is to parent boys that age. I would never allow them to run around the streets at 2:30 a.m. with adult criminals. If I saw one of their friends out doing it I’d grab them by their ears and haul them into my car and every single one of them know this. I’d do it because I care that much to do it. I’d do it because lives matter, and not just those of people I know and love.

It’s not enough to demand that others recognize that everyone’s lives matter, we have to treat those very lives LIKE they matter, and that means not allowing precious, 13 year-old lives to be in an alley at night with a gun. I don’t care if it was the first or fiftieth time Toledo did it, his life mattered and because his life mattered you don’t allow him to even do it once. You teach him to respect himself and value his life too much to put himself in situations like that.

I was justifiably angry about this on Hannity tonight. This is when outrage is appropriate, and if it isn’t here, when is it? Here is a clip caught by viewer Maddie; the full video is here at this Fox link, story here:

Lives matter, and they first matter in the home.