Chris Hack, Daily Southtown (Tinley Park, Illinois), March 20, 2007
Ryan Rusch, the 14-year-old boy brutally beaten in Beverly Park last summer, testified Monday he doesn’t remember anything between seeing a group of three boys approaching him from behind and waking in a hospital bed four days later.
The diminutive eighth-grader—who’d had three heart valve-replacement surgeries before the July 16 attack—took the witness stand in the trial of the only one of three suspects in the case to be charged as an adult.
Micha Eatman, 18, faces charges of attempted murder, aggravated battery and robbery. Eatman waived his right to a jury trial and decided to have his case heard by Circuit Judge Joseph Kazmierski.
Rusch, who was walking through the park to get to a cousin’s house, said he initially was approached by a group of three boys sharing two bikes. They asked what he was up to and then went their own way.
An off-duty Chicago police officer driving through the area watched the encounter and asked Rusch what the boys had wanted; Rusch said they hadn’t bothered him, and he continued on his way. But Rusch’s cousin wasn’t home, and he soon was tracing his steps back through the park.
Neighborhood resident Sean Coleman, 18, testified he had just hopped into a friend’s car outside his house when he noticed the same three boys making their way back toward the park. Coleman and his buddy tailed the teens and watched as they eventually started following Rusch.
“You guys thought there might be trouble with three black kids in the park, so you kept an eye on them, correct?” defense attorney Steve Greenberg said.
“Right,” Coleman replied.
As retired high school teacher Tom Joyce was walking his greyhound through the park, he passed Rusch and soon afterward, the trio of boys behind him.
Joyce, 62, said he ran screaming across a football field in the park as one of the three boys continued kicking Rusch in the head. Current college freshman Tom Harrington Jr. was tossing a football around in the park with a buddy when he saw the commotion and also ran toward the scene.
Joyce starting tending to Rusch—who was covered in blood, convulsing violently and foaming at the mouth—while Harrington and his football pal ran after the three assailants.
Rusch, who’s just over 5 feet tall and weighs about 100 pounds, said he suffered a broken nose in the attack and has lost peripheral vision in his right eye. He spent 10 days in the hospital—the first few in a coma—and nearly a month afterward in rehabilitation.