A judge on Friday acquitted Ruben Roman of firearms charges related to a 2021 shooting that sparked a chain of events that ended with the shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo by a police officer of Chicago in 2021.
Judge Charles Burns said grainy surveillance video and forensic evidence presented by prosecutors could not prove Roman, then 21, shot at a passing car moments before police found Roman and Toledo walking down a nearby alley, or even that Roman had been holding the gun that was found next to Toledo’s body.
“I believe this is a very strong case, but with the oath I’m taking, I’m going to follow the law and follow the evidence, and I don’t believe at this stage that the evidence presented by the l The state, while compelling, does not prove “that Roman fired or possessed the weapon,” Burns said.
“I don’t believe Mr. Roman is innocent, and I will never say he is innocent. But there is a difference between calling someone innocent and saying someone is not guilty.
Burns found Roman not guilty on three counts of aggravated use of a weapon and one count of recklessly discharging a firearm.
It was unclear if Roman would be released on Friday. He was free from electronic monitoring until August, when prosecutors filed a motion to have his bond revoked after probation officers found bullets in the bedroom of Roman’s Maywood home during a home check.
Following Burns’ verdict, prosecutors withdrew that bail violation, but Roman was on probation for a 2019 firearms case at the time of his 2021 arrest, and it was unclear as of Friday. he would be released before appearing before the judge in charge of this case.
Much of the evidence gathered in the case was part of the Toledo police shooting investigation, Roman’s attorneys said. Toledo’s death sparked citywide protests and was one of several police shootings in the spring of 2021 that led the Chicago Police Department to revise its foot chase policy.
Prosecutors alleged Roman, then 21, stood next to 13-year-old Adam Toledo as Roman fired multiple shots at a passing car at the intersection of West 24th Street and South Sawyer Avenue in the early hours of March 29, 2022, gunfire that triggered ShotSpotter sensors and sent officers to the scene.
Responding police spotted Roman and Toledo in a nearby alley, beginning a brief foot chase that ended with Officer Eric Stillman fatally shooting Toledo as the 13-year-old turned to face to the officer, apparently a split second after concealing a 9mm pistol. out of sight behind a fence.
Some 20 months later, Roman began a trial before Burns in an empty courtroom. While Roman was originally charged with child endangerment, at trial he faced four felony counts related to the shooting at the car, and none related to Toledo’s death.
The trial, which took place over two afternoons after Burns’ usual court appeal, featured prosecutors’ surveillance video that showed Roman shooting at a car and footage from the body-worn camera of the Stillman’s partner, who also testified. Stillman, who faces fire from the police commission and is named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Toledo’s mother, did not speak.