The Latest Episode in Police Overreaction

I have written before and will write again that I appreciate the work that the police do. A lot of that work is dangerous and most of it is directly connected to the mission of making the rest of us safe. I am grateful for that, always have been, and always will be.

But this is appalling and intolerable:

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.

Wrana’s family wants answers. The Illinois State Police are investigating the horrific incident but won’t comment, and neither will the Park Forest police pending the outcome of the inquiry.

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.

And after doing some digging, I found there are two versions of events: The police version, and a new picture that raises questions of whether John Wrana was killed unnecessarily.

The Park Forest police version is that on the night of July 26, John Wrana, a resident of the Victory Centre senior living facility, threatened staff and paramedics with a 2-foot-long metal shoehorn and a metal cane. The police statement neglects to mention that the old man also used a walker, at least according to photographs supplied by Grapsas.

“Attempts were made verbally to have the resident comply with demands to drop the articles, to no avail,” the police statement reads. “The resident then armed himself with a 12-inch butcher type kitchen knife.”

But lawyer Grapsas says that Wrana’s family never saw a knife in his room and that staff also told him Wrana didn’t have such a knife.

What possible justification could there have been for this kind of behavior. And when will the people responsible for killing John Wrana face the consequences of their actions?