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Don Lemon defends officer in Adam Toledo shooting: 'Not all police shootings are the same'

Stephen Proctor
·3 min read
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On CNN Tonight With Don Lemon Thursday, Lemon came to the defense of a Chicago police officer after body-camera footage was released showing him shooting and killing 13-year-old Adam Toledo in the early morning hours of March 29. In the video, the officer is chasing Toledo, who reportedly had a gun, down an alley, yelling for Toledo to stop, and for him to drop his weapon.

With former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on trial for the killing of George Floyd and protests continuing following the police shooting death of Daunte Wright just outside of Minneapolis, some commentators have suggested the Chicago incident is part of a pattern. But Lemon sees the latter case differently.

Speaking to Chris Cuomo during the hand-off between shows, Lemon said, “This is tough, Chris, because, you know, not all police shootings are equal.” Lemon added, “If someone's running with a gun and they turn around, police officers have to make decisions in split seconds. That's why I'm not a police officer, because I couldn't face that kind of pressure, and I just, quite frankly, don't believe that I could do the job. That’s why I sit here on TV and analyze it and talk to people about it.”

Though Toledo was not armed at the moment he was shot, a gun was found just feet from where the shooting occurred, and gunshot residue was found on the teenager’s hand. The gun is believed to have been ditched just seconds before Toledo was shot, and Lemon reiterated his point that people should not jump to conclusions and consider this to be an act of officer aggression.

“We cannot judge all police shootings, we cannot put them all in the same realm,” Lemon said. “They make split second decisions. Sometimes they are tragic, sometimes they are warranted, sometimes they are not.”

Cuomo brought up the fact that the officer immediately attempted to provide aid to Toledo after the shooting, and could be heard seemingly distressed after he and other officers were unable to revive him. Cuomo agreed that this officer should not be seen in the same light as Chauvin, and believes that the body-camera footage will ultimately exonerate the officer.

“In this case, I think that body camera footage is going to wind up lead investigators to say that, ‘Look, this is terrible. I wish it came out another way, I wish he hadn’t shot, but I understand why he did,’” Cuomo said. “And if he hadn’t had the body camera footage, I think that he would have been in a very difficult situation.”

CNN Tonight With Don Lemon airs weeknights at 10 p.m. on CNN.

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