Ruben Roman not guilty — but also not innocent — of firing a gun before Adam Toledo killing, judge says

A Cook County judge on Friday found Ruben Roman not guilty of possessing and firing a handgun with Adam Toledo moments before the 13-year-old was fatally shot by a Chicago police officer last year.

Judge Charles Burns presided over the bench trial and said Friday that he did not believe Roman was “innocent,” but he also did not believe the state proved his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Roman remains on probation for another unlawful use of a weapon charge from April 2019. Prosecutors also charged him with being inside a home where ammunition was present while on electronic monitoring for the Toledo-related case. The status of those charges was not clear as of Friday afternoon.

Adam Toledo, wearing a blue sweatshirt, walks with Ruben Roman moments before shots were fired, bringing Chicago police to the area. | Chicago Police Department; COPA

Surveillance video from a distant security camera showed two men firing shots in the 2400 block of South Sawyer early on March 29, 2021. A second video showed Toledo and another man, Ruben according to prosecutors, walking toward the corner and running away after the gunfire.

In the following video, the shots were allegedly fired by two figures who emerge at an intersection near the top right corner at the 1:10 mark. Then, at the 3:35 mark, Toledo and an officer are seen running down an alley at the other end of the parking lot. The video shows the officer shooting Toledo at a gap in the fence.

Police officers responding to 911 calls and a ShotSpotter alert encountered Roman and Toledo nearby and chased them on foot. Roman was stopped by an officer near a pair of gloves that allegedly had gunshot residue on them. Toledo continued running and was fatally shot as he turned toward an officer a split second after ditching a firearm behind a wooden fence.

Prosecutors had accused Roman of passing the gun off to Toledo. In fact, they initially charged him with child endangerment, but that count did not get past the grand jury stage, court records show.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com