Adam Toledo killed by Chicago police using ShotSpotter

Occurred: March 2021-

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The use of ShotSpotter by Chicago police led to an officer fatally shooting a 13-year-old boy in March 2021, prompting reports that its sensors are disproportionately placed in minority communities and activists to call for the city to stop using the system.

Thirteen-year-old Adam Toledo was shot dead by police officer Eric Stillman in the Little Village neighbourhood of Chicago after his friend Ruben Roman had fired his gun several times, triggering an alert by ShotSpotter. Police chased Toledo, who was reputedly armed with a gun, into an alleyway and shot him. However, bodycam footage later revealed that Toledo had been unarmed.

The incident resulted in public protests and unrest amidst accusations of police brutality and lack of accountability, as well as accusations of racial discrimination in the Chicago Police Department due to its use of ShotSpotter in predominately ethnic minority areas.

The controversy also led to media reports accusing police of getting ShotSpotter owner SoundThinking to alter evidence generated by its gunfire detection system, and was seen to have contributed to a February 2024 decision by the City of Chicago to stop using ShotSpotter.


Operator: Chicago Police Department
Developer: SoundThinking/ShotSpotter
Country: USA
Sector: Govt - police
Purpose: Detect gunfire
Technology: Deep learning; Neural network; Machine learning
Issue: Safety
Transparency: Governance; Black box