Chicago, IL — Rylan Wilder was a 15-year-old boy who made history in 2019 by becoming the youngest person to have ever played at the music festival Riot Fest in Chicago's Douglas Park. He is the lead guitarist and vocalist for his band, Monarchy Over Monday. Unfortunately, however, Wilder may never be able to play music again after he was shot twice by police as they pursued and killed a robbery suspect, Christopher Willis.
“Will I ever be able to play guitar again?” was Wilder's first question after coming out of surgery. According to his doctors, the answer to that question is unknown.
According to an attorney for the family, the answer to that question two years later is still unknown as Rylan has required multiple surgeries to repair the extensive damage done to his left arm, and doctors aren’t certain whether he’ll ever regain full use of the limb.
Two years later and the department has still refused to take responsibility for the incident.
“We just didn’t feel that the full picture and the totality of the events that occurred that evening were made clear to the community,” Des Plaines Police Chief David Anderson told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Anderson has even taken to the media to claim that he is uncertain whether or not it was actually Des Plaines Police Officer James Armstrong who shot Wilder.
“If you listen to the video, what I hear is the potential of a shot being fired just prior to Officer Armstrong firing his weapon,” Anderson said.
However, the Chicago police department has already admitted it was Armstrong who shot Wilder and video evidence was released this week showing Armstrong shoot the boy.
Tim Cavanagh, the Wilder family attorney calls the chief's assertion that anyone but Armstrong shot Wilder is "nonsense."
“The suggestion that anyone other than a Des Plaines police officer shot Rylan Wilder is nonsense,” Cavanagh said. “The video makes very clear that the bullet that struck Rylan’s arm came from a military weapon held by Officer Armstrong.”
Wilder was shot in the abdomen and the arm, with one of the bullets shattering his bones.
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According to the teen's mother Lucia Morales, her son is now missing several arteries in his arm and a metal rod was surgically put into his wrist to hold it together. Morales told CBS Chicago that Rylan still does not have feeling in certain fingers and “at this moment, we don’t know if he will recover from that.”
Luckily, the bullet which struck him in the abdomen narrowly missed his major organs.
As TFTP reported at the time, police said that Willis was suspected of robbing a bank several jurisdictions over and had led officers on a long chase before retreating into the music school.
Chicago Police were reportedly waiting as Willis exited the expressway after they say Willis shot and wounded one of their own. That officer has since been released from the hospital.
According to CBS Chicago, the family's lawsuit contains the text messages between Rylan and his dad that night.
Before the shooting, Rylan asks, “could you pick me up at 7:15 please?”
His mom writes back, “yes — daddy will pick you up — he wants to see how the mini is running.”
Rylan says, “cool thanks” with a kiss emoji.
But nearly an hour later, mom writes “Hey is everything OK? Dad’s trying to get there, but everything is blocked off by police.”
Imagine the horror that this family felt after going to pick up their son at his job at a music school, seeing the police lights and not hearing back from Rylan. One couldn't help but to imagine the worst, and that is just what they got. When they finally caught up with their son, he was bleeding out in a hospital bed.
"No one can ever imagine what it's like to see their child on a table like that," Morales told reporters. "The amount of doctors working on him the amount of blood everywhere was unbelievable."
One of the pieces of evidence the Wilder's legal team asked for as part of their lawsuit is the Des Plaines Police Department pursuit policy, which states in the first paragraph of that policy that balancing the safety of the public is as important as catching the suspect, and “hazards to uninvolved bystanders and motorists” should be a factor in terminating a pursuit. Apparently, however, that did not happen as Rylan was shot for merely being in the music school in which the suspect ran.
Sadly, police shooting children in Chicago is not as rare as one would think. Earlier this month, TFTP reported on the killing of 13-year-old Adam Toledo who appeared to be unarmed and have his hands in the air when he was gunned down by a Chicago cop.