Update: Police Officer who shot WWII veteran charged with class IV felony

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Update: Police Officer who shot WWII veteran charged with class IV felony

This was actually the biggest story of 2013 in terms of traffic on Burn Pit.  A reminder about what happened:

When John Wrana was a young man, fit and strong and fighting in World War II with the U.S. Army Air Corps, did he ever think he'd end this way?

Just a few weeks shy of his 96th birthday, in need of a walker to move about, cops coming through the door of his retirement home with a Taser and a shotgun.  

The old man, described by a family member as "wobbly" on his feet, had refused medical attention. The paramedics were called. They brought in the Park Forest police.

First they tased him, but that didn't work. So they fired a shotgun, hitting him in the stomach with a bean-bag round. Wrana was struck with such force that he bled to death internally, according to the Cook County medical examiner.

"The Japanese military couldn't get him at the age he was touchable, in a uniform in the war. It took 70 years later for the Park Forest police to do the job," Wrana's family attorney, Nicholas Grapsas, a former prosecutor, said in an interview with me Thursday.

And now the update, courtesy of Stars and Stripes:

An officer was charged Wednesday in the police killing of 95-year-old John Wrana, the World War II veteran who was fatally shot with beanbag rounds in his apartment at a suburban Chicago senior facility last year.

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office said patrolman Craig Taylor, 43, was charged with one count of reckless conduct, a Class 4 felony. Taylor has been with the Park Forest Police Department since January, 2004.

Taylor is expected to appear before a judge later Wednesday at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building. The case is being handled by the special prosecutions unit.

The Chicago Tribune has some more info as well:

“Given the other viable options to resolve the matter and the number of shots fired at this senior citizen at close range in rapid succession, we believe this officer’s conduct to be reckless,” Alvarez said in a statement.

Taylor, 43, was released on his personal recognizance from Leighton Criminal Court Building after prosecutors gave a lengthy recitation of the facts of the case in bond court.

“It’s a tragedy all around,” said Judge Donald Panarese Jr., who ordered the officer’s release.

This right here is the crux of the issue:

A decision was then made to forcibly enter Wrana’s room and attempt “a violent extrication,” Delaney said.

“Other viable options to de-escalate and resolve the matter safely were ignored, including allowing Wrana to remain alone in his room while the officers attempted to calm him down through the closed door,” the prosecutor said.

All they really had to do was wait.  It's not likely a man who needed a stroller to walk around was much of an imminent threat.

As with all such things, the traditional caveat is in force: the officer is innocent until proven guilty, and we probably haven't heard all the facts.  That said, I still for the life of me can not formulate a scenario in my head that explains a forceable extraction of a 95 year old man, or why a bean bag gun that is not supposed to be used at closer that 30 meters was used from about 5 meters.  It just doesn't make any sense.

Posted in the burner | 34 comments
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I cannot comprehend how long our society will continue to put officers on the street with totally inadequate training in the de-escalation techniques for the mentally ill, and in this case, perhaps dementia. I'm certainly not defending the actions of the officer as described in the articles but simple math should add up to calling in the mental health professionals. Nurses and nurse aides deal with situations like this everyday in emergency rooms and long term care facilities and I have never heard of the need for a gun. In fact, most situations don't require law enforcement officer's presence.

At the very least this officer should never wear a badge again

No, at the very least this guy should go to jail for a very long time. Actually, eye for an eye comes to mind but that's too old fashioned for today's wimpish society. Our police forces are getting out of control. Acting more like Gestapo than those sworn as "peace officers" to serve and protect.

This man was in a retirement home . Not an inmate in a prison . No gun shouldn: have been in the building
He hah not commited a crime . The charge should be murder.

There is no reason for a weapon to have been used in this situation and the officers involved should all be charged with murder. If someone dies in the commission of a crime, all involved in that crime are equally guilty.
That the defendant was a LEO should not give him any credit, in fact it should count more against him. This is someone the public has to trust to do the right thing, he has violated that public trust.
As for convicting him without a trial, unless there is a huge piece of this story that no one has shared the verdict is guilty. The punishment should be more severe than for a civilian murderer again because this murderer was a LEO.

What could this man do to them? He was seated in plain view and could not walk. Why all the force. These cops are trained to handle this sort of thing on the street. Maybe they should be trained how to handle the elderly as a separate part of there training before being let loose to kill people. This cops punishment should be something that will change and have an effect on the rest of his life. N I 4 N I

UN fortunately a sign of the times. PDs are training to assault everyday citizens in this very manner. Wake up comrades, it is nearing the time to take up arms against those who have been put in place to be enforcers of the unlawful laws being made. Police are not here to protect and serve as we have been lead to believe over the years. That is not their job as described in many court cases. They do not have to lend aid at all. Just show up and make reports or arrests or unnecessary shooting of innocent civilians as they view as imminent danger to themselves, police.
Wake up brothers and sisters!

The problem is caused by the attitude that the police have. It is us (police) aginst everyone that isn't a policeman. Thet treat every encounter with the public as though everyone is going to do them harm. No common sense is used. I would be ashamed to admit I broke into a retirement home and shot a guy that was supporting himself with a walker.

Did Offricer Taylor OR ANY other copper on the scene have any idea of how many people in that facility were probably on a blood thinner? And the paramedics, what is with them calling the cops because a 96 year old man didn't want to take his meds? And how about a facility that supposedly looks after the aged? You would think they should not have a license if the best they can do is call paramedics to administer meds and then apparently walking away from the mess THEY caused. They all should be sued for max dollars and more than the copper should do some prison time. I know Chicago people are stupid because of who they elect, but are they this stupid?

Common sense.... absent.
The old man probably shot off his mouth. The cops defense, most probably:
" I saw him reach for a lip."

I can not find any reason for the officer to act as he did, unless the man had a loaded gun of his own. Trained or not in the use of bean bags, where is the commonsense? Was he afraid that an old, infirm man with a walker would open the door, drag him inside and beat him to death or worse chase him down the hall with a butter knife? This officer is another example of the change in American police attitudes, the young bucks have a growing number in their ranks that do not respect or serve the people, especially the elderly - they are old and are going to die any way. And lest we forget, what mentally short changed staffer thought calling the law enforcement was a good idea and are they still working there? The fact is all the fools involved may have done John a favor, yes, indeed John wanted off his meds- check.... Maybe John was tired of living and just wanted peace and to join his loved ones- check. Sadly, we will probably never know if that is true, the one thing we do know is that any of these possibilities do prove John was smarter than the staff or the officer. In my opinion, the officer with bean bags deserves prison time, if found guilty, and the officer in charge on site should be severely reprimanded for even allowing the shotgun to be taken from the car in these circumstances.

Maybe John was tired of living and just raised enough hell to scare the crap out of the nursing home attendants who are supposed to be trained to take care of old geezers. Being only 96 and wanting to die, he knew if they called the cops a park police officer would come with a shotgun and blow him away. WHAT KIND OF SICK MIND THINKS THAT UP TO JUSTIFY THE OLD MAN'S MURDER? You finally got something right. The shotgun should have remained in the damned car trunk (unless it would be stolen while the officer's were inside the nursing home.) There was no excuse for the tazer either. At that age any disruption of nerve signals is an almost automatic death by heart stoppage. Why shouldn't John want off his meds? The doctors continue to add meds until those of us over 65 are walking around like zombies because we have to think of every move. I hope you youngsters enjoy it when you get old enough.

Police have become nothing more than brute squads who blindly follow orders and recklessly involve themselves in violence (often to the detriment of the citizens). Just how far do they think most people will tolerate these types of behavior. Maybe this is why most people dispise them for the thugs they appear to be?

I am a WWII Vet. Had I been the vet he attacked, I'd be alive and he would be dead.

While I do not approve of the way the situation was handled, too much emphasis was put that the victum was a veteran of a war 70 years ago where most able bodied bodied men served, volonteerely or drafted; I did not know of a man my father's age that didn't serve. Had they left this victum alone, as maybe they should have; had he died alone, the screems for abandoning him would have been about as loud.

Not taking or refusing to take your prescribed medication is not punishable by death. Amy police officer responding to a disturbance call at a retirement facility should be accompanied by a skilled negotiator who might be able to reason with a person who is just having a very bad day. At 87 years of age, and myself a WW 2 veteran, I never want to be confined with people who have basically "lost track of who and where they are and unable to recognize their own kin". No need for guns in a retirement facility, just talk.

A total abuse of power. This man should be prosecuted and placed in prison for a violent felony.

This was much more than reckless conduct. Use of excessive force on a 95 year old man who required a walker to move around is not only unjustified, in this case, where apparently multiple rounds were fired, it is murder, plain and simple. Earlier post pointed out that if the victim were black and the officer white it we be a murder charge - shame on the prosecuter for not having the guts to charge the officer with murder. And yes, it is important to note he was a WWII vet!

Here's proof that very slow justice will hopefully and ultimately prevail.

KILLED by White Plains, NY police that responded to his apartment after he accidentally pushed the button on his medical alert while sleeping. They forces their way in even though he indicated he was OK. The medical alert employees tried to stop the AID CALL, when he indicated he was alright. They shot him with bean bag then shot and killed him. It was only supposed to be an AID CALL. ALL THE OFFICERS WHERE ACQUITTED AND ARE STLL ON DUTY. This Marine survived a war but not the confrontation with the police that are supposed to set e and protect. IT WAS AN AID CALL!!!!

Today's police call that training! Gestapo tactics. Welcome to the a Third Reich! America is dying. This is just another symptom.

I have been a medic since 1968.On the ambulance team in our town we have spent many hours picking up and transporting people who were refusing or confusing their meds. We have NEVER encountered anyone 95 yrs old that would not calm down with a a firm hand or quiet speech. just wait them out. what a tragedy.


Forest Park, "Senior Facility". It this place a "nursing home" facility or not? WHAT would cause this "facility" to call for police intervention? Are they improperly staffed? They don't have staff qualified to handle a mentally disturbed senior? This is a very disturbing story, on all accounts. As a vet, retired P.O. and a recently"shuffling"into the scene, senior", everyone involved here is hurting.

What a pitty when a 95 year old veteran who survived the hell of WW 2 is murdered in his own apartment for refusing medical attention. May he finally rest in pease.

Mr. Wrana was given an order by a uniformed policeman which makes it a lawful order. Police all over the country know that in such instances they can do whatever they please to maintain control. What would we become if we required our police to use common sense or think of the rights of the person they are about to victimize? Even worse, what would it be like if the police were to consider the overall situation and whether it required a full metal jacket response. Heck they might miss their chance to do what they become cops to do in the first place.
I wonder how long it took before they got Mr Wrana to an ER? Internal bleeding can be treated with blood infusions that is unless the cops decide to deny treatment because they feel you're faking or that you should suffer a bit as a punishment for noncompliance in the first place. I wonder what Mr. Wrana was saying that so upset Officer Taylor that he decided he needed to use such force and punish Mr. Wrana.
I do agree that all the police that responded to the scene should be charged. Even if they were outside lookouts sitting in their their get away cruisers. They participated in the commission of a crime. They should all be charged in the same way they would charge anyone else to participated in a crime.

The police officer should be charged with murder. The staff of the nursing facility should also face charges. THEY are the ones who made the first bad decision, as they should have been trained to handle a 95 year old senior in a walker. If he refused his meds..... Don't Call The Police! HANDLE IT! Thank you for serving! Rest in peace, Mr. Wrana.

The long and short of it. This should never have happened. The policeman should loose his badge because he has no common sense and be tried and convicted to the full extent of the law. Plane and simple.

Trying not to judge too quickly without all of the details. Why in the world were the police called in the first place due to a senior in a nursing facility because he refused medication? Is this standard practice? How stupid! Why wasn't he in a VA hospital? What words were spoken that we don't hear? What witnesses were present? But, to confront and shoot repeatedly at any person in a nursing home is not too smart...

So, we don't know all of the details. Evidently, this overreacting nitwit with a badge didn't know all of the details about how to deal with a 95 year old man that was probably a bit confused and also, who knows how much the old fellow had been pushed around or abused in the past to make him wary of people trying to be forceful with him? Possibly, he was afraid of them too!

To all of you do-gooders out there who defend that fool.....You probably haven't been around in this world long enough make judgment calls on issues like this. There are many GOOD officers out there but a lot of egomaniac's that like to flaunt their authority.

What gives the right to that officer to be judge, jury and executioner? Explain that to John Wrana's family and friends. You don't put your loved ones in a home to be tortured and killed.

When I first saw the new account of this tragic incident, it did not seem right, and more facts made public about this incident takes me to the conclusion that all individuals involved in this tragedy should face some kind of punishment. The nation is losing World War II Veterans at an alarming rate from natural causes brought on by the process of aging, do we have to speed up their departure by murdering them?

After reading several comments here, one thing that was not mentioned was a hate crime. I am not saying that it was, but if the scenario was reversed, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson would have bought their own tickets to announced that it was a hate crime of an evil white man gunning down an innocent black invalid who had to use a walker to get around. Our society is going askew here people. No matter of race, religion or creed, this type of violence should not happen. I would also hold the entire staff of the nursing home responsible for calling in the militia for a person that refused to take his meds.

I wonder why the taser did not work but, more importantly, why any force was required at ALL?
90+ years old and using a walker. I can only ponder, "was the walker armed"?
Assuming that they do not go in with guns blazing, someone must have given the order to use that degree of force, IMO, there must be more to this story.
Can you say "CYA."

I taught Use of Force for 30+ years; never did I encounter in any of my course materials an entry that stated it was okay to use force equal or greater than that with which confronted. The rule of thumb was always equal to or LESS than that with which being confronted, for obvious reasons. I wasn't there on scene, however, based on the open source reporting, here's the failure points I've noted:

Age notwithstanding, why wasn't MACE or pepper spray utilized when the TASER failed?

Why did the TASER fail? I'll lay dollars to dougnuts it was deployed incorrectly (i.e. neither of the two prongs gained minimal spacial seperation on the intended target as is required for maximum effectiveness, or was deflected by an unknown object thereby negating the electical discharge).

Why were bean bags used? What action did the LEO perceive to be taken on the victims part prompting the escalation of force? Less Than Lethal IMPACT weapons are typically utilized when the adversary/suspect has a blunt object weapon or other device in their possession, and are threatening themselves/others. I see no mention of that in the main stream media reports.

And, no negotiater mentioned. If this warranted a full up breaching of the premises, it warranted a negotiater. Why wasn't an attempt made to contact the nearest JAG and Skype in/Facetime in a uniformed military member, or physically bring in a uniformed member to speak with the Veteran, to establish that common bond that only Veterans share? This can be done on domestic soil, as they would not be the armed entity nor technically assisting in an arrest. They'd merely be assisting with descalating of the incident. We've done it in the past...

Just my half shillings worth...

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.