Suspect in Shootout With U of C Officer Wanted ‘Suicide by Cop’: Prosecutors

Video: Body camera footage shows a Jan. 18, 2022, shooting in which a University of Chicago police officer and 27-year-old man exchanged gunfire. (University of Chicago Police Department)

The man who was allegedly involved in a shootout with a University of Chicago police officer Tuesday morning told dispatchers he was suicidal and wanted to “go out by suicide by cop,” according to prosecutors.

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Rhysheen Wilson, 27, was ordered held on a $2 million bond during a hearing Thursday following his arrest on charges of attempted murder of a peace officer, aggravated discharge of a weapon and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.

Wilson did not appear in court for the hearing, as he remains hospitalized after being shot during the incident.

Wilson suffers from PTSD and schizophrenia, according to prosecutors, and was off his medication Tuesday when he began speaking to his cousin about potentially killing himself.

Wilson called 911 and indicated that he needed help because there was a suicidal man with a gun walking in the area of South Woodlawn Ave & East 52nd Street, prosecutors said. He then told the dispatcher he was that suicidal person and that he wanted to die via “suicide by cop.”

While on the phone, Wilson allegedly began firing his gun into the air and at the ground near his cousin, who had been following him, though he told the dispatcher he did not want to hurt anyone “but a cop,” according to prosecutors. 

As this was happening, a University of Chicago police officer drove past and saw Wilson carrying the gun, according to prosecutors. Wilson saw the officer and allegedly began firing in his direction, forcing the officer to jump out of his car while it was still in drive.

The officer ran to a nearby home and used part of its brick façade for cover as he and Wilson allegedly exchanged gunfire. The officer then ran behind a car for cover and repeatedly told Wilson to get on the ground.

According to prosecutors, as Wilson walked down the middle of Woodlawn, the officer fired again, striking Wilson and causing him to collapse. Wilson was struck multiple times, including twice in his right thigh, twice in his lower leg and once in the groin.

The officer was not struck by gunfire. As he approached Wilson, he allegedly asked the officer to let him “bleed out.”

The University of Chicago Police Department has since released body camera footage showing an exchange of gunfire. At the end of the 54-second video, the officer radios for an ambulance and indicated Wilson had been shot “at least two times.”

Prosecutors said 10 shell casings were recovered from the corner where Wilson began shooting, and three witnesses saw that shooting occur. One witness, a woman who had been in a vehicle nearby, realized a bullet had passed through her windshield.

“Upholding the safety of the University community and our South Side neighbors is a paramount priority,” the department said in a statement Wednesday. “Investigations into the shooting are underway by UCPD as well as the Chicago Police Department.”

The officer involved in the shooting, Nicolas Twardak, was also reportedly involved in a separate police shooting of a U. of C. student nearly four years ago. That student, Charles Thomas, survived and initially faced felony charges, though those were later dropped.

Contact Matt Masterson: @ByMattMasterson[email protected] | (773) 509-5431

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