A Bensenville police officer shot and almost killed continues his recovery amid an outpouring of love and support.
Steven Kotlewski was dispatched to a domestic disturbance call early on the morning of Nov. 6, 2021.
It started as a call to 911 of someone acting erratically at a Bensenville apartment. In a matter of moments, Kotlewski ‘s life changed forever.
A 21-year-old man appeared, gun in hand, and opened fire ten times
Eight bullets hit Kotlewski’s body, a ninth went into his vest.
In his escape, Kotlewski tumbled down the stairs. He managed to draw his gun and awaited his execution which never came.
His fellow officers and responding paramedics applied a tourniquet and helped save his life.
From the hospital to therapy five days a week, Kotlewski was beginning to work through what happened – physically mentally and spiritually.
“I’ve had arguments with God. I’ve bargained with God,” he said.
In the days, weeks and months following the dreadful domestic disturbance call, Kotlewski said his own life has never been more harmonious. He said he is more in tune with what matters most to him than ever before.
Today continues the long road to recovery. At first glance with the scars and the weight loss, it may not seem so but Kotlewski says he’s feeling stronger every day.
“I have to go back for a CT test tomorrow because my back heeled enough on its own to do some more therapy, different therapy,” he said. “Right now I have all these different precautions. You can’t bend. You can’t twist. You can’t lift more than 15 pounds because my back was broken.”
Kotlewski said the outpouring of support has been terrific.
“It’s been overwhelming that people care that much,” his wife Crystal said.
Crystal has been on this roller coaster with him since that November day. Since then, they have been showered with love and support.
“I am in shock by it,” she said. “And I’m just so grateful that people do care as much that they do and they are willing to help people in need.”
Because doctors feel it’s very possible he will leave the wheelchair behind for good one day, insurance denied the request to pay for the new first-floor bathroom.
After WGN’s previous story on Kotlewski aired in February the people at Home Depot took notice. The store is taking care of the remodel for free. They are installing a new wheel-chair accessible bathroom with a shower on the home’s first floor.
Tim Daly is the Home Depot Store Manager.
“We are heavily invested in our communities,” he said. “This project came to us and we felt the need to help out. We moved doors. We moved walls and added new appliances so that he can easily maneuver through here.”
The family says they are over the moon, thankful for Home Depot, which they frequented already for the way they treat veterans.
Crystal’s father, Dave served in Desert Storm.
“Home Depot is the only store I will go to for the hardware stuff because they do the military discount as well,” she said. “And my parents, they benefit from that. So I’m going to give them my support because I like that they support these people.”
As for Steven Kotlewski, he hopes to one day get back on the job.
“Yes, I want to be a cop again. I want to go back to work,” he said.
Back to work with a new sense of what matters most.
“Life is very simple,” he said. “That’s why I like my kids because they help me realize clarity and vision and I am trying to get back to that vision.”