Prosecutors Drop Charges Against University Student After He Was Shot

Chicago prosecutors have dropped charges against Charles Thomas after he successfully completed a court diversion program. Police accused Thomas of aggravated assault of a police officer and criminal damage to property. The campus police officer who apprehended Thomas also shot him. Thomas, a fourth-year political science major, was allegedly smashing car windows and damaging apartment windows.

Bodycam footage shows Thomas approaching the officer with a crowbar. The officers identified Thomas as a mental health case. Thomas’s mother says that he has never had any symptoms of mental illness, but college age is when a number of disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder begin to emerge. His mother said his family had a history of bipolar disorder.

The student was shot, albeit non-fatally, and likely required to get mental health counseling for his problems. The charges against him were dropped in lieu of the pretrial diversion program. It is unclear if he had to make restitution to the university or the individuals whose property he damaged as part of the pleading.

Bipolar Disorder and Criminal Complaints

Bipolar disorder is a psychiatric illness that causes violent mood swings. There are two types of bipolar disorder — Type 1 and Type 2. Type 2 bipolar disorder is also called cyclothymia. Usually, you will not hear about bipolar disorder type 2 folks behaving in the way described above. Bipolar type 1, on the other hand, is different. The mood swings can cause other psychiatric illnesses such as psychosis. To be distinct from schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, psychiatrists say that bipolar type 1 folks only have psychotic symptoms during a mood disturbance. This disturbance is almost always mania.

Essentially, bipolar type 1 folks will have extended periods of baseline or mild depression. At some point, however, mania is triggered resulting in boundless energy, difficulty sleeping, and psychosis. This is a difficult mixture. Those who are psychotic may not know that the folks around them are real. Unlike schizophrenics, bipolar people have their psychotic episodes triggered by a feeling of invincibility and mania. 

Because mania and psychosis go hand-in-hand with bipolar type 1, controlling the mood disturbances becomes the best way to manage the other symptoms. Those with undiagnosed bipolar disorder, however, are subject to the ebbs and flows of extreme moods, delusions, and derealization.

Because this is a psychiatric condition that responds well to treatment and lifestyle changes, those who commit crimes while they are psychotic have a strong defense to the charges. However, they are still responsible for maintaining their mental health, meeting treatment goals, and staying sober.

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney

David Freidberg represents the interests of those who have been charged with serious crimes in the Chicago area. While insanity pleas are rarely successful, attorneys who can show that their client has an undiagnosed mental illness that runs in their family will be more successful at negotiating a plea than those who do not. Call (312) 560-7100 today to learn more about how we can help. 

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