A teen musician shot accidentally by an Illinois officer pursuing a robbery suspect last week isn't sure whether he will be able to play the guitar again, the teen's family told reporters Monday when they detailed his injuries in an emotional statement.
Rylan Wilder, 15, was shot November 19 by a Des Plaines police officer who had chased a gunman suspected of robbing a bank and wounding a Chicago police officer into the Chicago music school where Wilder was interning. The robbery suspect, identified by police as Christopher Willis, was shot and killed by the Des Plaines officer, reports the Chicago Tribune. The teen, a singer and guitarist who performed in September at the popular Chicago music festival Riot Fest with his band Monarchy over Monday, was struck in the arm and abdomen by the same officer and rushed to a hospital.
"No one can ever imagine what it's like to see their child on a table like that," the teen's mother Lucia Morales told reporters. "The amount of doctors working on him the amount of blood everywhere was unbelievable."
Morales said the bullet that struck her son in the abdomen narrowly missed major organs, reports CBS Chicago. The second bullet shattered his left arm, and doctors aren't sure whether he will ever regain full use of it. Surgeons re-routed some arteries and inserted a metal rod in his arm, and re-connected a severed nerve that controls the thumb, index finger and middle finger, according to the Tribune.
Morales said the teen still does not have feeling in certain fingers and "at this moment, we don't know if he will recover from that."
After asking from his hospital bed whether anyone else was hurt and if his sister was worried, according to the Chicago Tribune, Morales said her son asked her, "Will I ever be able to play guitar again?"
"I said, 'If you have positive thoughts and you have the right mindset, things are possible but I can't promise that,'" Morales told reporters.
The family's lawyer Tim Cavanagh said the family has filed a lawsuit against Willis' alleged accomplice in the bank robbery, Maurice Murphy, who is charged with stealing more than $15,000 from a Des Plaines bank prior to the chase and police shooting. Murphy was reportedly arrested in Des Plaines before Willis allegedly stole a car and led police on the multi-jurisdiction chase that ended with the shooting at the Chicago music school.
"Maurice Murphy knew or should have been aware that his actions ... could lead to further acts of violence involving innocent bystanders," the lawsuit read, according to the Tribune.
Murphy was unable to post bond and remains in federal custody, CBS Chicago reports.
The family is also reportedly seeking evidence from all the law enforcement agencies involved in the police chase "to determine whether or not Chicago or the Des Plaines police department have any culpability in this." Chicago police initially said Willis exchanged shots with the Des Plaines officer inside the music school, the Tribune reports, but later said only the Des Plaines officer opened fire.
Tuesday, a judge ordered both Chicago and Des Plaines police to turn over bodycam footage to the family within 31 days, reports Chicago station WLS-TV.
"Shooting that 15-year-old boy was a horrible tragedy, horrible. Thank God it didn't turn out worse than it did," Chicago Police First Deputy Superintendant Anthony Riccio told CBS Chicago. "But yeah, we absolutely had to go in there and get [Willis]."
The Des Plaines Police Department's pursuit policy — obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request by CBS Chicago — says public safety is as important as catching a suspect, and "hazards to uninvolved bystanders and motorists" should be a factor in terminating a pursuit. Des Plaines Police Chief William Kushner told the station he was aware of the motion to preserve evidence related to the case but he had no comment on the complaint filed Monday.
The family has started a GoFundMe page titled "Help Rylan Play Music Again" that has raised more than $54,000 as of Wednesday to help cover the teen's medical bills. Supporters are also planning a benefit concert for Saturday.
"While the injuries are tragically severe, unlike many other families, we are lucky, he survived and is now out of critical condition," the page reads.