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University Of Chicago Police Officer Who Shot Man In Hyde Park Shootout Also Shot Student In 2018

By Tara Molina and Todd Feurer

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The University of Chicago Police officer who shot a gunman during a shootout in Hyde Park on Tuesday has been identified as the same officer who shot a U of C student nearly four years ago, about a block away.

While announcing attempted murder and other charges against 28-year-old Rhysheen Wilson in this week's shooting near 53rd Street and Woodlawn Avenue, the university also identified the officer who shot him as Nicolas Twardak, who has been with the UCPD since 2016.

According to the university, Twardak is the same officer who shot Charles Thomas in April 2018, after Thomas was seen walking up and down Kimbark Avenue between 53rd and 55th streets bashing cars and apartment building doors with a large pipe or crowbar.

When police responded, they confronted Thomas in an alley, Twardak shot him in the shoulder when Thomas refused to drop the weapon and charged at officers.

Thomas' mother has said she believes her son was having a mental health episode, and the shooting prompted protest marches on campus.

A review by the Chicago Police Department and the university found Twardak's actions "were consistent with applicable law," according to the university.

Thomas was charged with one count of aggravated assault to a peace officer, two felony counts of criminal damage to property, and two misdemeanor counts of criminal damage to property.

In this week's incident, Wilson has been charged with one count each of attempted murder of a police officer, aggravated discharge of a firearm, and aggravated unauthorized use of a weapon. He is being held on $2 million bail.

At Wilson's bond hearing, prosecutors said, according to Wilson's family, he suffers from PTSD, schizophrenia, and mood swings. Wilson met with his cousin Wednesday morning, and was crying and talking about killing himself, according to prosecutors.

At some point, Wilson ran away from his cousin, who followed him. Wilson then pulled out a handgun and his cell phone, and called 911, telling a dispatcher he "wanted to go out by suicide by cop and that he just wants to die and he's ready."

Wilson told the dispatcher he had a loaded gun and he was shooting in the air, but "isn't going to hurt anyone but a cop." While on the phone with 911, prosecutors said Wilson fired a shot into the ground near his cousin, and also fired multiple shots in the air.

Police and prosecutors said Twardak was on patrol around 11:40 a.m. Tuesday, heading north on Woodlawn Avenue, when he saw Wilson running south on Woodlawn near 53rd Street, holding a handgun.

Prosecutors said, as Twardak was still driving his squad car, Wilson started shooting in the air, and then pointed the gun at the officer, who jumped out of his vehicle while it was still in drive. Wilson then shot at Twardak as the officer moved for cover on the front stoop of a nearby residential building.

Body camera footage released on Wednesday shows Twardak standing on the stoop, shouting at Wilson to "get on the ground" before returning fire.

At one point, Wilson is seen walking in the street and can be seen staggering as more gunshots ring out.

Twardak then walks down the steps and takes cover behind a parked minivan, repeatedly telling the man to "get on the ground."

Twardak appears to fire at least four more shots from behind the minivan, and requesting help over his radio, before seeing the gunman lying on the ground in the parkway across the street.

"He's on the ground. He's hit at least two times. Officer-involved shooting," Twardak states before the video ends.

UCPD also released video footage from two cameras at the nearby Kimbark Plaza Shopping Center. One shows Wilson walking down the sidewalk, holding a pistol. The other shows the shootout from down the block.

Cell phone video posted on social media on Tuesday showed Wilson falling to the ground in the street, before getting back up, and collapsing again on the nearby parkway.

As Wilson was lying on the ground, prosecutors said Twardak approached him, and Wilson kept saying he wanted the officer to "let him bleed out."

Prosecutors said Wilson suffered two gunshot wounds to his lower right leg, and one gunshot wound to his groin.

Wilson was taken to University of Chicago Medical Center in critical condition. He is not affiliated with the university, according to a university spokesman.

Twardak was not shot, but prosecutors said "there were 10 fired cartridge cases located at the corner" where Wilson had been firing at him. This was observed by witnesses.

No other injuries were reported.

Read The Full Bond Proffer Against Wilson:
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This week's shooting remains under investigation, and Twardak has been placed on mandatory administrative leave.

Twardak has been with UCPD since 2016, and in addition to his patrol duties, has been assigned as a field training officer and bike officer, according to the university.

Wilson pleaded guilty in 2013 to a charge of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

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