‘What is a Des Plaines Officer doing in the City of Chicago?’ Wounded by police, a teen’s family seeks answers

WGN Investigates

WARNING: Video contains graphic content. Viewer discretion is advised.

CHICAGO — Nine months have passed since a Des Plaines police officer chased a bank robbery suspect into the city and accidentally shot a teenager.

WGN Investigates exclusively obtained the video of the shooting and spoke to the young man who survived.

But many questions still remain.

Des Plaines won’t say why the officer pursued a suspect into the city, in possible violation of department policy, or why he carried his personal gun – a military-style assault rifle.

Lucia Morales is the mother of wounded Rylan Wilder, who was 15-years-old at the time.

“I guess I’m wondering what a Des Plaines officer is doing in the city of Chicago?” she said.

It all began in November of 2019 when two men robbed a bank branch in Des Plaines and stole more than $15,000.

Police captured one of the men but the other sped off in a car he stole at gunpoint.

Des Plaines pursued the man southbound on the Kennedy Expressway, over 11 miles of roadway, with speeds reaching as high as 80 mph, records show.

WGN Investigates obtained a copy of Des Plaines’ vehicle pursuit policy. It states officers should not pursue outside the suburb if “two units from the other [law enforcement] agency are actively involved” unless “directed to do so by a supervisor.” 

Records show there was at least 20 other law enforcement units in pursuit that day, raising questions as to why Des Plaines continued and who was behind that decision.

“We’re going to find out whether was he was authorized by the CPD, by the Chicago Police Department, to be in the city of Chicago,” Tim Cavanagh, an attorney for the Wilder family, said.

The family is suing the surviving bank robber as well as Des Plaines and the officer who killed the one robber and wounded Rylan with his personal assault rifle, according to the lawsuit.

“The wound to Rylan’s arm – the bullet that went through his arm, into his abdomen inflicted damage commensurate with a war victim,” Cavanagh said.

The bank robber had gotten off the Kennedy at Irving Park Road. Then, after a crash he took off on foot. Police said he ran inside Upbeat Music and Arts, where Rylan was wrapping up a work shift.

The officer followed him inside and opened fire. It was later determined the robber had a gun.

Rylan has endured 14 surgeries to his arm and abdomen but knows he’s lucky to be alive. The Lane Tech student was a rising musician who had performed with his band at House of Blues and Riot Fest. Now, he is working to play music with the same skill he once did.

The family said Des Plaines police has never reached out to apologize or explain what happened.

“They completely – I don’t want to say they ruined my life – but they took away a huge part of it that I loved to and they just don’t say anything,” Rylan said. “They pretend like it didn’t happen.”

“The fact that the injury happened at such a young age – those are the words they use to try and comfort us,” Morales said. “Deep down in my heart, I do hope that’s the case.”

Des Plaines officials declined numerous requests for comment.

A spokeswoman for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office also declined to comment, noting the shooting is still under review.

Records we obtained show Des Plaines determined its pursuit of the suspect “appears to be in compliance with our policy.”

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