Alexis Wilson did not make it to her 20th birthday, but her family will be celebrating her life on Oct. 8 as they continue to mourn.
The 19-year-old former cheerleader and Homewood-Flossmoor High School graduate was killed July 27 in an encounter with Dolton police. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office ruled her death a homicide caused by multiple gunshot wounds.
Her parents, Alonzo and Cara Wilson of Homewood, are continuing to press Dolton officials for answers to their questions about the encounter that resulted in their daughter’s death. The couple have been critical of the way Dolton officials have treated them.
Dolton officials did not respond to requests for comment.
The incident occurred around 1 a.m. July 27, when Alexis tried to get a meal from Baba’s Famous Steak and Lemonade in Dolton. During a dispute over her order, restaurant staff called police and reported a customer with a gun.
Police asked Alexis and a passenger to exit the vehicle. When she did not comply, explaining that it was because she was scantily dressed, two officers tried to force her to exit, one from the driver’s side and one from the passenger side.
Surveillance and bodycam videos published by Chicago ABC7 TV shows Alexis’ head jerk backwards twice, and then she drove forward. Almost immediately, shots are heard, and her vehicle crashed into a nearby bicycle shop.
Both officers were injured, according to police, and a Dolton spokesperson characterized Alexis’ actions as using a vehicle as a weapon.
The Wilsons, however, dispute the police account of the incident, saying it inaccurately portrays their daughter as a criminal rather than a frightened teen.
Cara Wilson said she has seen a number of very hurtful comments on social media from people who she thinks have been influenced by the police portrayal of what happened.
“She was a child. That girl just made a Build a Bear the month before,” she said, referring to a store that offers customers a chance to make customized stuffed bears. She helped her younger brother, who is autistic, with his bear.
Cara said Alexis was almost like a second mother to the boy.
“We joke all the time that I just birthed him but she was his mother,” she said. “Just a couple of months ago I had to tell her, ‘Get your brother off your hip. He’s big as you now.’ He was 8 and she’s still trying to hold him like he’s 3.”
Cara described her daughter’s plans for the future, from starting a lash extension business to studying at Prairie State College to become a medical assistant. She died just a few weeks before classes started.
Because of her experience helping her brother, Cara thought Alexis might someday succeed her at Howard Intervention Center, a service for autistic children that she started in Homewood several years ago. The business has since moved to Matteson and Munster.
“She was the sweetest out of all our kids. She’s the one that wanted to keep us all together,” Cara said.
Alexis’ death is being investigated by the Illinois State Police, which did not respond to a request for comment.