Man Shot by University of Chicago Officer Charged, School Releases New Details

The University of Chicago police officer who shot a man waving a gun earlier this week shot a student four years about a block away, the school disclosed Thursday.

The details were released in a statement announcing charges against the gunman in this week’s shooting, Rhysheen Wilson, 28. He is charged with attempted murder of a police officer, aggravated discharge of a weapon and aggravated unauthorized use of a weapon, the school said.

The university identified the officer in Tuesday’s shooting as Nicolas Twardak, the same officer who shot Charles Soji Thomas while he was possibly having a mental episode. That shooting happened in April 2018 after police responded as Thomas was smashing car windows with a pipe.

Thomas allegedly charged at the officer while holding the pipe and was shot.

The Chicago Police Department and the university reviewed the shooting, and both reviews found that the officer’s actions were “consistent with applicable law,” the school said.

Twardak has been an officer at the university since 2016, the school said. In addition to patrol duties, he has served as a field training officer and bike officer, according to the school.

In Tuesday’s incident, the school said Twardak was driving driving north and stopped to investigate Wilson, who was walking south with a handgun drawn on Woodlawn Avenue at 53rd Street.

Wilson started firing as the officer stepped out of his car, and Twardak returned fire, the school said.

Body camera video released by the university Wednesday begins with the officer on the front steps of a home, shouting for a man across the street to “get on the ground, get on the ground.”

Seconds later, the officer begins shooting at the man, firing at least five times. The officer then runs closer to the man, using an SUV for cover while continuing to yell “get on the ground” and firing more shots.

About 45 seconds into the 54-second video, the man can be seen lying on the ground. The officer then radios, “Send an ambulance, he’s hit at least two times, officer-involved shooting.”

The man was taken in critical condition to the university’s medical center. The school said he is unaffiliated with the university.

Students with CareNotCops, a group formed in response to Thomas’ case in 2018, said they were disturbed by the similarities to Tuesday’s shooting.

“From what we know right now, it seems like he was undergoing a mental health crisis, which just further connects it to Soji,” Warren Wagner, an organizer with CareNotCops, told the Sun-Times.

Since the group’s formation, CareNotCops has pushed the university to divest from its police forces and further invest in mental health resources and facilities on campus.

Copyright CHIST - SunTimes
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