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.
“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.