Police officer charged with felony for the death of WW II veteran at nursing home

File:IND 003714 Battlefield on Scraggy Hill at Shenam.jpg
Battlefield on “Scraggy Hill” at Shenam after the fierce fighting during the Battle of Imphal. John Wrana served in India and Burma with the US Army Air Corps in Burma and was honorably discharged as a sergeant. Photo Source: Wikipedia 1944

Park Forest Police Officer Craig Taylor was recently charged for accidentally shooting repeatedly to death a World War II veteran using a bean-bag gun at a nursing home last year.  The Chicago police officer, Taylor, 43, was charged with felony for the reckless conduct resulting to the death of John Wrana, 95. He was released on recognizance after a hearing on Monday.

The Cook County prosecutors narrates the circumstances of the case in a court document. It reported that Taylor and other police officers were ask to respond to a call from a staff member of Victory Center claiming that Wrana was threatening the other residents and was resistant to emergency workers who were attempting to take him to the hospital on July 26, 2013.

When the responding officers arrived at the nursing home, the staff reported that Wrana had struck an emergency worker with his cane. Wrana was with the U.S. Army Air Corps in Burma during the Second World War. The officers proceeded to Wrana’s room and found him holding a long metal object. They thought that it was a knife or machete. It turned out to be a metal shoe horn. After a while, Wrana grabbed a knife and threatened to throw the knife at the police officers and “cut” them. He refused to drop the knife despite the orders of the officers.

An officer attempted to fire a Taser gun at Wrana. However, the prongs of the Taser did not hit Wrana. The veteran then moved toward the officers with a knife in his hand. Taylor then fired a bean-bag gun to Wrana. He paused and fired four more shots. The Cook County medical examiner submitted their findings. The office claimed that Wrana died as a result of internal bleeding and blunt force trauma. The office also ruled his death as a homicide.

The prosecutors made criticisms at the unnecessary use of force of the police officers. They claimed that Wrana was alone in his room and was no threat. But the officers were said to have ignored other alternatives to calm Wrana. The prosecutors also claim that the optimum distance of firing a bean-bag gun should be 15 to 60 feet. However, the Taylor disregarded training standards and fired the weapon from no more than eight feet away.

Furthermore, they claimed that Taylor failed to observe safety standards in firing the weapon and disregarded its effects at close range to an elderly. Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez claims that while police officers have difficulty in doing their duty, she concluded that Taylor’s act was reckless. She claimed that there were other viable options to resolve the raucous without firing several shots in rapid succession to an elderly at very close range.

Charged with Felony, Craig Taylor was said to have used unnecessary force when he stunned gun a 95 year old in close range at rapid succession.
Charged with Felony, Craig Taylor was said to have used unnecessary force when he stunned gun a 95 year old in close range at rapid succession.

Nicholas Grapsas who is the lawyer of Wrana’s family said the family has not yet decided whether or not they would opt for a lawsuit. However, the family claims they have a strong case against the police officers. Grapsas said that they do not understand why the officers would not have considered other actions less lethal to Wrana. He claimed that Wrana was only only 11 days shy of his 96th birthday. Wrana was also said to be harmless.

The police officers, on the other hand, claimed that they acted the way they did because they were left with no choice. Grapsas further reported that only last year Wrana was honorably discharged from the U.S. Air Corps with the rank of a sergeant for serving in India and Burma. He was also reported to have one gun shot wound from his fighting in the Pacific. Wrana, who was originally from Massachusetts, moved to California after the war. He worked in real estate and eventually settled in Glenwood, Illinois.

He was married to Helen for 30 years. In 2005, his wife died. After the death of his wife, Wrana lived with only his stepdaughter, Sharon Mangerson, 74. But, his health deteriorated so he was sent to a nursing home.

Mangerson said his stepfather was very independent. She said that in his old age, he still played cards. Grapsas claimed that the Japanese forces could not kill Wrana when he was in combat in highly dangerous territories doing highly dangerous missions. Yet, after 70 years, he was easily killed by the Park Forest Police nonetheless. It was reported that Wrana was about a week short to his 96th birthday. He had become aggressive and antagonistic to staff after refusing to get medical treatment for his urinary tract infection.

The Victory Centre where Wrana resides is a living community for the elderly aged 65 and above. The community has 112 apartments.

John Wrana and wife, Helen, having dinner. Photo Source: Nicholas Grapsas
John Wrana and wife, Helen, having dinner. Photo Source: Nicholas Grapsas



Siegphyl is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE