Archive for August 6th, 2013

Illinois Cops Kill 95-Yr-Old War Hero

By Jerry A. Kane

A 95-year-old resident of an assisted-living center in Park Forest, Illinois, died of blunt force trauma of the abdomen after police tased him and shot him with bean-bag rounds from a 12-gauge shotgun.

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.—John Kass, Chicago Tribune reporter

On July 27, police were called to the Victory Centre senior living facility where John Wrana allegedly threatened the facility’s staff and employees of a private ambulance company with a metal cane and a 24-inch shoehorn during his involuntarily transfer to a clinic for medical treatment.

Once the police arrived, they kept the staff out of the room, and ordered the World War II vet to drop the cane and shoehorn and surrender.

The staff was not inside once the police were on the scene. … They (the police) were in charge at that point.”—Maria Oliva, Pathway Senior Living, executive

According to a police statement, Wrana refused to comply with their instructions and continued making threats and picked up a “12-inch butcher type kitchen knife” instead. Police then attempted to stun Wrana with a Taser; but when that didn’t work they shot him with bean-bag rounds.

At some point, I’m told there were between five and seven police officers, they went back to the room with a riot shield in hand, entered the door and shot him with a shotgun that contained bean-bag rounds.”—Nicholas Grapsas, attorney

The staff and family who were at the facility when the incident happened said they didn’t see Wrana with a knife. They also said that the old man was sitting a chair when the altercation occurred.

I wasn’t at the scene, and maybe the police have a good explanation. But common sense tells me that cops don’t need a Taser or a shotgun to subdue a 95-year-old man.—John Kass

The police statement seems to suggest that the responding officers had no alternative but to shoot Wrana because he posed an immediate threat to the staff. However, Oliva said that the staff was kept out of the room once the police arrived, so there was no imminent threat to them.

“We don’t know what occurred. We don’t know what information they had at that time. If you don’t have all of the facts, it’s hard to judge someone. … Anyone can be dangerous.”—unnamed senior police official who trains police recruits in defensive tactics

Residents at the senior living community think that the police used disarming tactics that were too excessive for a man who was a few weeks shy of his 96th birthday.

Most veteran cops I talked to suspect this is a case of unnecessary force. I’ve never met a police officer who couldn’t handle a 95-year-old man in a walker. And John Wrana wasn’t Jason Bourne. He was an old war veteran who didn’t want to be pushed around.—John Kass

An autopsy conducted by the Cook County medical examiner’s office found that Wrana died from injuries suffered in an incident.

Bean-bag rounds can be especially dangerous when fired at close proximity, and present a serious risk of death or injury when fired from less than 10 feet away.

Wrana’s death has been ruled a homicide by the medical examiner. The Illinois State Police Public Integrity Unit is reviewing the case.

I want answers. I want someone held accountable.”—Sharon Mangerson, Wrana’s stepdaughter

Park Forest police have not yet commented on the incident. 

“This was a literal war hero. It’s outright insulting when you have such lack of respect for someone who served our country to the extent he did.”—Nicholas Grapsas

I.M. Kane

For more on the story, see “Was police killing of 95-year-old necessary?” and “Police kill 95-year-old man with bean-bag rounds.”

Police Kill 95-Year-Old Man with Bean-Bag Rounds 2:33 Video

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