University of Chicago student shot by campus police charged with assaulting officer

Friday, April 6, 2018
Students protest after U of C student shot by campus police
Students at the University of Chicago protested Wednesday afternoon after a student was shot in the shoulder by a university police officer Tuesday night.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A University of Chicago student who was shot by campus police has been charged, Chicago police said Thursday.

Charles Thomas, 21, has been charged with aggravated assault of a peace officer, two counts of criminal damage to property $300-$10,000 and two misdemeanor counts of criminal damage to property under $300.

University police were responding to calls of a burglary when they encountered Thomas in an alley in the 5300-block of South Kimbark Avenue. In dash and body camera video released by the University of Chicago, the student was seen running toward officers with a metal object. His face was covered in some sort of shield and he was wearing yellow gloves.

Students held a protest on campus Thursday afternoon, questioning why university police were armed with guns and asking for a discussion on mental health.

"It's very unfortunately, it's clear the young man had a mental health episode," said one student. "I think it does need to inform our discussion of mental health resources on campus."

"There have been way too many incidents of mentally disabled people being shot by police officers who clearly do not have proper training of dealing with such a case," said another student, speaking at the protest.

Thomas' aunt Ellen Crews said she never anticipated her nephew being in trouble - especially not charged with a crime.

"He's always been very kind, he's always been very thoughtful, very quiet, very studious," Crews said.

Thomas, a fourth year student at University of Chicago, has been on the crew team all four years and does very well academically. His aunt says she doesn't recognize the young man in the video.

"All I want is for him is to get the help that he needs to get better. He has such a bright future in front of him. He was two months from graduating," Crews said.

"He passed two squad cars, didn't damage them. I believe it was his attempt to exit the area and be left alone," said Steven Goldman, an attorney for Thomas.

As the Chicago police investigate the incident, some on campus want to see the results of a thorough investigation and ways to better address mental health issues.

"I think this has been a traumatic event on campus," said Calvin Cottrell, University of Chicago student body president. "It's really been jarring and I think all of us are really trying to focus on what are the next right steps."

The officer who shot Thomas has been placed on mandatory administrative leave as police investigate.

The university said the officer that fired has been on the University of Chicago police force for two years and has undergone 40 hours of crisis training, including mental health training.

Thomas remains hospitalized with a gunshot wound to his shoulder and a broken clavicle.

On Thursday, his bond was set at $15,000. If posted, Thomas will be released on electronic monitoring.