As Police Narrative Evolves, Family Of Teen Shot By Suburban Cop Files Lawsuit
Updated at 12:25 p.m.
The parents of a 15-year-old Lane Tech High School student who was shot in the arm and stomach by a Des Plaines police officer last week filed a lawsuit Monday to help find out why “an innocent bystander would be shot by a suburban police officer in the city of Chicago.”
The parents, Tom Wilder and Lucia Morales, brought their claim in Cook County circuit court against Maurice Murphy, 32, the alleged getaway driver for bank-robbery suspect Christopher Willis, 32, who died in the shooting.
The family’s attorney, Timothy J. Cavanagh, says he will be in court Tuesday to ask a judge to order all police departments and investigating agencies involved in the case to preserve evidence including police dashcam video, bodycam video and radio recordings as well as police policies about pursuits and surveillance video from surrounding businesses.
“Suing Murphy allowed us the avenue to get in front of [the judge] tomorrow to get access to all this evidence to determine whether or not Des Plaines or the Chicago Police Department have any culpability in this,” Cavanagh said in a Monday news conference announcing the lawsuit.
“This family is not going to get any monetary justice from Willis or from Murphy,” Cavanagh said, adding that the family could be adding the Des Plaines and Chicago police departments to the lawsuit’s defendants.
Evolving police narrative
Murphy was arrested shortly after the bank robbery, which took place in Des Plaines, a few miles northwest of Chicago. Willis allegedly carjacked a vehicle, led police on a high-speed chase into Chicago, and shot a CPD officer in the head.
The Des Plaines officer, whose name has not been released, followed Willis into UpBeat Music and Arts, a storefront school at 4318 W. Irving Park Road. The lawsuit, which identifies the boy as Rylan Wilder, says he was a talented guitarist and was working there as an intern.
Willis carried a 9 mm pistol into the store, according to a federal criminal complaint filed Friday against Murphy.
The Des Plaines officer used a semiautomatic rifle, CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.
Willis died from multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
In a news briefing after the shooting, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson appeared with Mayor Lori Lightfoot and read a statement that said the teen was shot as the Des Plaines officer and Willis “exchanged gunfire” in the store.
Speaking to reporters the next day, CPD First Deputy Superintendent Anthony Riccio referred to the gun Willis allegedly carried inside the store. Riccio said Willis “pointed that gun at the Des Plaines officer.”
Riccio, CPD’s second-in-command, said the Des Plaines cop “most likely” shot the teen while “neutralizing the offender.”
Later in the week, Guglielmi told WBEZ the department had no evidence that Willis fired any shots inside the store.
Willis, once inside, “did not have time to get a round off, as far as we can tell,” Guglielmi said. “The boy walked right into the shooting.”
Guglielmi said 12 shell casings from the Des Plaines officer’s weapon were recovered.
Lucia Morales, Rylan Wilder’s mother, said at the Monday news conference that he played lead guitar for a band that performed in September at Riot Fest, an annual outdoor music event on Chicago’s West Side.
Since the shooting, Morales said, the teen has undergone numerous surgeries and remains hospitalized at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.
The stomach injury was less serious than the arm injury. Bone shards remain in the limb, he has yet to regain feeling in several fingers, and it is unclear whether he will regain full use of the arm, she said.
A CPD investigation of the incident could take weeks, Guglielmi said.
An Illinois law that took effect in January requires the Des Plaines Police Department to conduct its own “thorough” review of the shooting.
The law was passed after a WBEZ and Better Government Association investigation of 113 shootings by suburban Chicago police officers found that the officers’ departments had done virtually no examination of whether the shootings could have been avoided.
Des Plaines police officials did not respond to WBEZ questions about the shooting or the review they are required to conduct.