U of C students continue calls to abolish the campus police after three murders of students and a new incident when a man fired at a cop

February 11, 2022 • 12:45 pm

I swear, there is no sight more ridiculous than a group of college students demanding to abolish a campus police department right after cop shoots a guy in self defense after the perp started shooting at the cop!   And this is a particularly sad but egregious case, because the perp was walking down the street waving a handgun, shooting it in the air . And then he started firing at a campus cop when the cop pulled up and demanded that the guy drop to the ground. It turns out the perp was mentally ill and off his meds, and was out on a declared mission to commit “suicide by cop.” He wanted that violence. And yet the students blame the cops!

And all of this is happening in an academic year when three of our own students were killed off campus by robbers or after being hit in other gunfights  It’s been the worst year for off-campus violence in the 36 years I’ve been here. Yet student calls to abolish the campus cops (note: not defund them—ABOLISH them) get more persistent. 

I happened upon the most recent incident about an hour after the shooting described below took place. I was going to get fruit and veg, but four or five blocks around the small shopping center had been rendered off-limits with yellow tape, and cops were everywhere. When I asked one what had happened, he wouldn’t tell me (this laconic response, which is probably the legal response, is common). But the story was on the news that night, and an account appeared in our increasingly woke student newspaper, The Chicago Maroon (I will make no puns here). Here’s the account (click on screenshot):

 

The details:

A man was wounded in a shootout with the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) late Tuesday morning near the intersection of East 53rd Street and South Woodlawn Avenue.

A UCPD officer encountered the man carrying a handgun near 53rd and Woodlawn at 11:43 a.m. on Tuesday, according to an email sent to the University community by Eric Heath, the University’s associate vice president for safety and security.

According to University reports, the officer stopped his vehicle to investigate, after which the man fired shots and the officer ordered him to get on the ground. The individual then came in the direction of the officer, who fired his weapon and struck the individual twice in the thigh, Heath wrote in the email. Chicago Police Department (CPD) units were called to the scene soon after, according to police scanner reports.

According to a follow-up email sent by Heath on Wednesday, UCPD supplied the individual with medical aid before taking him into custody and bringing him to the University of Chicago Medical Center. The man is currently in critical condition, according to Heath’s second email.

Heath’s email stated that no one else was injured in the incident.

CPD and the University are both conducting investigations into the event. “Preliminary evidence indicates that the suspect began firing shots before he reached the intersection, and also fired at the officer,” a University spokesperson told The Maroon.

You can see some video here (note that the bodycam video starts 30 seconds in as there is a time delay):

On Wednesday, UCPD released videos of the shooting taken from the officer’s body camera and two security cameras at Kimbark Plaza. The body camera footage indicates that the officer fired three shots before the individual can be seen advancing, then two shots that struck the man. The officer then moved behind a parked vehicle and fired another four shots. At the end of the video, the man is seen on the ground.

The perp is identified as Rysheen Wilson.

And a walk-through of the videos by the Hyde Park Herald is here.  If you watch them, the beginning of the altercation is a bit unclear because the bodycam hadn’t started, but other evidence recently presented by the State’s Attorney shows that the suspect fired at the officer first, and only then did the officer take refuge behind a wall, order the suspect to get to the ground, and then shoot him when the man continued firing at the cop. The man was, as noted above, given medical aid and taken to the U of C hospital. He’s no longer in critical condition, and has been charged, among other things, with attempted murder of a police officer. (If Wilson is convicted, that will pretty much bring him a life sentence

The Chicago Sun-Times article (below) notes that the perp himself, before he went traipsing down the street waving his gun, called 911 and told the City of Chicago Police that he had a gun and wanted to commit “suicide by cop” (i.e., provoke the cops to shoot him). It’s pretty clear that the guy has some serious mental issues—watch some of the video when he’s dancing around waving the pistol:

The article shows that Wilson did suffer from serious mental problems. This is a tragedy, because perhaps if he’d stayed on his meds he might not have provoked this incident. But we can’t hold Wilson innocent, nor especially hold the cops culpable, when a mentally ill person begins shooting at police and the cops shoot back:

Wilson, 27, was “having mental issues” when he called his cousin Tuesday morning and told him where he was, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said in court. The cousin found him crying and talking about killing himself, Murphy said.

Wilson — who suffers from schizophrenia, PTSD and mood swings — was off his medication, Murphy said.

Wilson ran away from his cousin, pulled out a gun and called 911, Murphy said, telling the dispatcher his name, giving a description of what he was wearing and where he was.

The University of Chicago cop didn’t know about the 911 call, and the incident occurred when the patrolling officer drove by the man waving his gun. Nor, of course, did the officer know that Wilson was mentally ill—not that it would (or should) have made a difference in the cop’s behavior.

[Officer Nicholas] Twardak was driving down the street and saw Wilson pointing a gun at him and slowed down, Murphy said. As the officer stepped out his squad car, Wilson allegedly opened fire at Twardak.

The officer ran for cover toward parked cars on the other side of the street, and then moved to the front porch of a brick home as Wilson continued firing, Murphy said. Using the brick stoop as cover, the officer fired at Wilson, then repeatedly ordered Wilson to get on the ground, Murphy said.

Wilson moved toward the officer’s squad car in the middle of the street, and the officer fired at Wilson again and struck him, Murphy said. Wilson suffered two gunshot wounds to the thigh, two to the lower leg and one to the groin.

As Twardak approached, Wilson said he “wanted to bleed out,” Murphy said.

Three witnesses saw the shooting unfold, including a person in a car in Wilson’s line of fire. She reversed the car and then noticed bullet holes in her windshield and hood, Murphy said.

The sad irony of this is that officer Twardak was also involved in a 2018 incident when he shot (but didn’t kill) a mentally ill student who was having a breakdown and, after breaking windows and bashing up cars, charged the cop with a metal stake. Again ordered to drop the stake, the student continued to rush the cop and the cop defended himself shooting the student in the shoulder. I feel bad for everybody here, but one should also have sympathy for the cop instead of characterizing him as a serial shooter, as some students have done.  As far as I can see in both cases, the cop had no choice but to defend himself.

Those facts nonwithstanding, the organization #CareNotCops has increased the volume of its cry to “defund the U of C police”.  Their object, as you can see from the hashtag, is to argue that proper therapy and mental-illness treatment is a good substitute for police.  But not in this case, and not in the three cases of our murdered students this year—all killed by people outside the University community. Of course it’s possible that, at least in the 2018 case, therapy might have prevented the nonfatal shooting. But the victim, Charles Thomas, did not seek therapy, and went on to commit other crimes. He’s left the University but has completed a program that keeps him out of jail. Thomas’s lawsuit that he was shot in violation of regulations was dismissed.

And so a band of badly misguided students are blaming the police, and seeking their disbanding, in response to an increase in violence against students that could not possibly be stopped by “care”. What kind of crazy world do these students live in?

Here’s a Maroon article on the latest campus rally to protest the shooting of the guy who wanted to commit “suicide by cop” (click on screenshot):

Check out this logic:

#CareNotCops (CNC), a student group dedicated to the abolition of the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) in favor of investing in South Side communities and mental health services, gathered on the main quad in front of Levi Hall at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, February 4, to protest the recent shooting of community member Rhysheen Wilson by a UCPD officer.

Fourth-year CNC organizer Alicia Hurtado began the rally by giving a speech calling for the abolition of UCPD. They asserted that far too many UCPD encounters with community members result in “escalation, violence, and criminalization.”

Hurtado spoke out against the increased patrols and surveillance that the University instituted in response to 24-year-old recent UChicago graduate Shaoxiong “Dennis” Zheng being shot and killed during an attempted robbery at 956 East 54th Place on November 9.

“When the University announced their expansion of their private armed police force, I knew that it only had one predictable outcome,” Hurtado said. “That outcome was not safety or an answer to gun violence.”

The students want safety (see the Maroon article below) but when a student gets killed during a robbery, they get angry at the subsequent increase in policing. What on earth do they want? Patrolling therapists? (Click on screenshot):

Next, Hopie Melton, a third-year CNC member, read a statement on behalf of Students for Disability Justice (SDJ), an advocacy organization that promotes disability activism and discussion within the University community and Chicagoland. The organization said that UCPD and emergency dispatchers are not properly trained to handle mental health crises and unnecessarily escalate many confrontations as a result. SDJ also demanded that the University further invest in mental health services.

“[UCPD] responds to every situation with the same heavy-handed, violent approach, leaving behind the people that need our help the most,” Melton said, reading the statement. “Our Black neighbors are under constant surveillance. Our mad and neurodivergent neighbors are judged and have been pathologized for their differences. Our disabled neighbors are under constant threat, and UChicago acts as a further disabling force.”

This is, as John McWhorter notes, the voice of religion.

No, the two mentally ill people WERE ATTACKING THE CAMPUS POLICE OFFICERS, one with a metal stake and the other with a gun. How would proper mental health training of cops have changed that situation?

Now of course with mental health problems among young people rising rapidly, it behooves any school to ensure that proper therapy is in place. College is a stressful time. But it also behooves the students to develop some sense about how the world works. When a guy is trying to kill you with a gun, you don’t yell at him, “Go home and take your meds!”

27 thoughts on “U of C students continue calls to abolish the campus police after three murders of students and a new incident when a man fired at a cop

  1. I think JC is, if anything, being too generous to the protestors. My son is an undergrad at the U of C, and all I can say is that the officers he’s dealt with are unfailingly polite and helpful and that, as a parent, I’m very grateful to them for protecting the community–both the U of C community and the wider Hyde Park/Woodlawn community.

  2. These kinds of people are exactly the kind of people we need cops (to risk their lives) to protect us from.

    One interlocutor on FB has said (I paraphrase): Any cop who kills another person, under any circumstances, should have their career ended.

    My response was: Only people who know nothing about violent people can think we don’t need police. And: You might just want to study the ripple effects of such a policy. What cop would ever (ever) risk their life and limb, under this program, to protect people from violent criminals? Do you really think the violent criminals are going to stop being violent to other people? Or does it make more sense that, given the “career-ending” nature of police using deadly force under your plan, that violent crime would increase? You might want to review the crime statistics in Minneapolis since May 2020.

    Yes, it sucks that mentally ill people end up doing suicide by cop (and it’s damned hard on the cops too, we should never forget this). But, given the fact that they do, we need cops to limit the damage to law-abiding citizens.

    I recommend reading Michael Shellenberger on this subject.
    https://bariweiss.substack.com/p/slow-motion-suicide-in-san-francisco

    1. I can only think that these student activists believe there are no evil or violently crazy people in the world – that all such problems are caused by structural racism, inequality, injustice, etc. and that police are used by the corrupt powers that be to prop up that unjust system rather than simply fixing the system and curing the violence.

      Of course, they’re wrong. Some people are criminally violent. Some people are “evil”. Abolishing the police would only embolden them further. And even if there was a simple solution to inequality, etc. – which there isn’t – criminals would still exist.

      One need only watch a few interviews with these hardened criminals, where they’re asked, for example, why they robbed the store and why they shot the cashier in the head after she handed over all the money, and hear them say things like “Easy money.” and “Man, fuck dat bitch! I don’t know her! Why should I give a fuck? She ain’t kin!” to see that they’re unlikely to become model citizens any time soon. There’s killing out of criminal necessity or expedience, and then there’s cold-blooded, heartless killing that shows a severe deficit of consideration for others…

      I’m reminded of people who listen to Islamic terrorists clearly state the (religious) reasons for what they do and then turn around and say “Surely it’s actually because they’re angry at social injustices.”

  3. The problem is The System. The System kills blacks. The cops are part of The System. When we eliminate The System, the killings will stop. It’s essentially the old Marxist claim that crime is a product of capitalism, and there would be no crime under Communism.

  4. In the public sphere, the brief fashion craze for “defund the police” has backfired spectacularly. After this failure, its enthusiasts took their hobby to multiple college campuses, which makes it easy to predict the next steps. Because of events like those in Chicago, the college defund copycatechism will surely fizzle as well. After that, elementary schools will see a campaign to defund hall monitors; and before the comedy ends, a campaign will be organized among toddlers to defund babysitting.

  5. I am rather reluctant to say it, but I will. Americans often hate me saying this. This kind of thing doesn’t really happen at all here in the UK. There is so little gun crime that our police are unarmed. Americans often can’t believe it but it is true. We do have armed units but if you see a police officer on the street they will not be carrying a gun. Americans have too many guns. It is as simple as that. If a mentally ill person can get hold of a gun then there is something wrong. Of course because there is so much gun violence people feel they need to be armed putting more guns into circulation.

    1. The only answer I can make to you as another foreigner is that, unless you are prepared to go over there and disarm all the illegal gun-wavers yourself, what you say is not very helpful. “Who will bell the cat?” asked the wise old mouse.

      The purpose of any police force is to thwart the efforts of the dangerous classes to loot the rest of us, the right of individual lethal self-defense having been surrendered to the state to greater (UK) or lesser (US) degree. If the dangerous classes are heavily armed, many of them will die in the course of being thwarted. So what? That is not a relevant metric. What counts is how successful the police are in thwarting the looting classes.

      If the shooting in the thigh was aimed, the police officer deserves commendation for perhaps recognizing that Mr. Wilson was not in his right mind and didn’t deserve to die. Otherwise, shots into the torso until he stopped moving would have been fully justified, as has been amply demonstrated even in squeamish Canada.

      1. The shooting in the thigh wasn’t aimed. The police officer feared for his life so he would have been shooting to stop. That means bullets in the torso because you stand a better chance of hitting the torso than a limb. Limbs are quite thin and often moving around. The idea of shooting to wound is a fiction you only see in films and on the TV.

        Furthermore, a shot in the thigh that punctures the femoral artery is probably fatal.

        As to the main point. The USA has a huge gun problem. Complaining about how hard it is to fix will not get it fixed. Trying to fix it may not get it fixed either but at least try.

        1. Yes, from the video I see what you mean. At that range, across the street, while being shot at, the officer still hit with five rounds out of 10 fired if reports are correct, all in the lower limbs. From a pistol. The police were getting a tourniquet ready, probably saved the casualty’s life.

          An insoluble problem is not really a problem. It’s just a fact of life. “Solutions” are resisted because they make the problem worse. Lawful American gun owners look at scenes like this and say, “And they want to take our guns away from us when animals like that are wandering around loose? With guns. Great that university police were patrolling to keep the university safe. What about my working-class neighbourhood where there there are no college students and professors, no endowments and tuition fees to fund cops, but lots of predators?”

          1. Most of us who push for more sane gun control measures are not asking to ban all firearms. Instead, we want gun owners to demonstrate competency in gun safety. If lawful gun owners hear this and think it means disarming everyone, that is a problem on the part of the lawful gun owner.

            1. Really? Even as a foreigner I hear arguments from the U.S. that no one needs to own a gun. Period. Because the only reason to own one is to kill someone. Which is pretty much how we are with handguns. And guess what? It’s really true that only outlaws have handguns. Fortunately they use them mostly against each other and not very often for murder-robbery at liquor stores. The happy consensus that ordinary people shouldn’t be allowed to own handguns holds as long as the criminals use restraint.

              I don’t think the gun-control community knows exactly what it wants, or how it intends to reach that poor dude who was definitely showing deficient competency in gun safety. Not to mention attempted murder.

              1. I’m just happy (not really the right word at all) that at least some state promote concealed carry. That some states allow anybody to strut around with guns, rifles and all the ammo they can strap to their bodies is (IMO) insane.

                We wouldn’t allow someone carrying a baseball bat to menace a polling place, it would be considered voter intimidation. But I’m sure the above folks will be patrolling their polling places come midterms.

    2. I agree with you that in general, an armed society is not a polite society as we like to pretend. It’s a dangerous and sometimes scary place, and even good people can easily end up in a situation where two people have guns and one or both feel that they “have to” shoot first because he who hesitates may die. Law-abiding gun-owners are killed by police here for that very reason. (If police see a gun they often shoot almost instantly.) In the UK you’ve got your knife crime, but you’re much more likely to survive a knife attack, and it seems easier to deescalate.

      At the same time, it seems perverse to tell people that they should be rendered defenseless against armed criminals. I’ve yet to see a proposed gun law that would actually get guns out of the hands of common criminals, as opposed to merely disarming the law-abiding. After all, the police are almost never there when you’re getting robbed or your home is being invaded. At best, you can hope they’ll take a report and catch the guy afterwards. And the best you can hope for the proposed gun bans is that several generations from now, the general scarcity might start affecting low-level criminals…

      I think it’s made worse by the ongoing atomization of society and the loss of community. People who feel a connection to those around them seem more likely to deescalate, and less likely to treat other community members as potential enemies to be guarded against.

      1. We have “common criminals” in the UK too. As a rule, they do not carry guns. Can you think why?

        Here are a couple of reasons:

        1. It’s dangerous. If you’re seen with a gun in the street, the best outcome for you is a prison sentence. The worst is getting shot dead by an armed response unit.

        2. It’s expensive. Illegal guns are really hard to obtain in Britain because legal guns are hard to obtain. Every illegal gun started its life as a legal gun.

        Just remember that, if you choose to keep a gun in your home for self defence, statistically, the person you are most likely to kill with it is yourself.

    3. Given the situation that I’ve just described (and I would like an America like the UK vis-a-vis guns), would you still say the best thing the U of C police department could do would be dissolve itself. Gun control, which I’m very strongly in favor of, is not really the proximate topic at hand.

      1. A university campus needs to be policed just as much as any other part of society. As a Brit resident in the UK, I am not in a position to comment on how good the UofC campus police force is at its job but I am curious as to why a university needs its own police force rather than being covered by the normal police service operating in the community in which the university is situated (as is the case here in the UK). Whatever the answer to this question, I would agree that the shooting by police of a mentally unstable person wielding a gun is not good grounds for deciding to dissolve a police force.

  6. It used to be said that a “conservative” is just a liberal who’s been mugged — and a “liberal” is just a conservative who’s been investigated by the feds.

    There was, of course, only just a kernel of truth to that bon mot, but I wonder whether that kernel still obtains.

  7. 1) Where are the adults who are supposed to be advising, educating, parenting these students?
    2) If my memory serves right, I don’t recall that most adults didn’t think too well of all of the anit-war college student protestors during Vietnam
    3) I wonder if there were any real steps toward, or progress in direly needed police reform, if students would be more reasonable?
    4) Unfortunately, it seems police and certain others will use anything they can to stonewall any police reform, and of course this will be used as the highlight against.
    5) Gun control

  8. The #CareNotCops visionaries exemplify a variant of theodicy. In theodicy, religious believers deal with the with the problem of evil by proclaiming that God’s ways are Mysterious. In the Leftist variant, it is proclaimed that evil is a mere epiphenomenon of Root Causes. Thus, armed police are no good because they don’t abolish Root Causes: poverty, mental disturbance, systemic racism, microaggression, the unfairness of the Normal distribution (and of all distributions), and the domination of western culture, art, science, college-naming, and bird-naming by Old White Men. A step toward solving the Root Cause problem will be the replacement of armed police by psychiatric social workers and Diversity Consultants. I suggest that we use the term theidiocy for this analogue of theodicy.

  9. I wonder if the the students realize that untreated paranoid schizophrenic people are irrational and highly unpredictable. As such, no amount of training in mental health or de-escalation can be relied upon to help. The things they react to are internally generated and so, until placed in a locked mental ward, are escorted to that ward by two police officers and/or handcuffed. Mental health providers are taught early on to “get the hell away” from anyone behaving that erratically because they can’t be reasoned with and physical attacks happen for no identifiable reason.

    Once medicated, no longer responding to auditory or visual hallucinations, and have any delusional beliefs at bay (“those computers are sending signals to the radio in stomach for the CIA to control my brain” was one I recall (resulted in a smashed computer but no reason a person could not have been identified instead)), only then are they not seen as a threat and allowed out of the locked ward.

    I suspect this reality is a far cry from the students’ idea of “Care” in place of cops.

  10. ‘Fourth-year CNC organizer Alicia Hurtado began the rally by giving a speech calling for the abolition of UCPD. They asserted that far too many UCPD encounters with community members result in “escalation, violence, and criminalization.”’

    I’d like to hear her pearls of wisdom regarding toddlers of the community shot to death by certain adults of the community.

  11. It’s interesting that this whole discussion has escalated into a debate about guns. Yes, I do think that it would be good if other methods were used, such as pepper spray or tasers, which are generally non-lethal. That being said, when someone is charging at you with a metal stake you have to make a split second call if you feel your life is at risk. Don’t forget that many of these “protest” groups are actually being funded – like paid to be there. It’s well known that you can “rent a mob” for almost any type of occasion these days.

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