How hard can a 95-year-old World War II veteran throw a knife? Hard enough to justify shooting him with five 190-mph beanbag rounds from a 12-gauge shotgun, according to six Chicago police officers.
The family of World War II veteran John Wrana Jr. is suing the Chicago police for killing the 95-year-old on July 26 of last year. At the time, Wrana was a resident at Park Forest Assisted Living Center in Park Forest, Ill.
According to the lawsuit, suburban Chicago police officers Clifford Butz, Michael Baugh, Craig Taylor, Lloyd Elliot, Charlie Hoskins and Mitch Greer arrived at the senior living facility after staff called because Wrana was refusing to leave his room to go to the hospital.
“… Mr. Wrana was alone in his room, suffering from what the facility’s staff believed were symptoms indicative of a urinary tract infection in an elderly person,” the lawsuit states.
After Victory Center employees failed to convince the elderly man to leave his inhabitance in an ambulance to go to the hospital, they called 911.
After the officers attempted unsuccessfully to convince Wrana, who remained alone in his private room throughout the ordeal, to go to the hospital for possibly lifesaving treatment, they formulated a plan to remove the elderly man from the room by force.
The lawsuit explains, “The plan was to re-enter Mr. Wrana’s room and seize him by force with the use of: Commander Baugh’s ballistic shield, Commander Baugh’s Taser, Officer Taylor’s bean bag shotgun and Corporal Elliot’s loaded handgun.
“Defendant Commander Baugh instructed defendant Taylor to stand next to Commander Baugh with the shotgun ready to deploy if the Taser was ineffective in controlling Mr. Wrana. Defendant Corporal Elliot was behind defendants Commander Baugh and Taylor with his PARK FOREST departmentally issued handgun “deployed as lethal cover” in the private residence of 95 year old Mr. Wrana. Defendants Hoskins and Greer, who were also armed, followed inside the room from behind.”
The lawsuit goes on to say that, upon bursting into the elderly man’s residence, the beanbags were immediately fired into his abdomen.
“[E]ach of the other defendant police officers was also armed with a departmentally issued Taser,” the lawsuit says. “None of the other defendant police officers attempted to use their Tasers to resolve the encounter with Mr. Wrana with non-lethal force.
“Instead, defendant Taylor immediately deployed his ‘less lethal’ shotgun directly at Mr. Wrana and fired five rounds within just a few seconds at Mr. Wrana, striking and wounding him in his abdomen, chest and arm. Taylor fired the five rounds from his shotgun from a distance of only approximately six to eight feet from Mr. Wrana.”
Media reports contradict the lawsuit, stating that one officer tried, unsuccessfully, to stun the elderly man with a Taser.
According to Wrana’s family, the officers then cuffed the elderly man as he screamed in pain, photographed his injuries and required him to wait for treatment until a municipal ambulance arrived on the scene — even though the private ambulance that was originally scheduled to carry the man to the hospital stood by.
The elderly veteran subsequently died as a result of internal bleeding from his injuries. His death was ruled a homicide by investigators.
The officers claimed the need to use force because Wrana brandished a knife, which he threatened to throw at the officers, along with a cane and a shoehorn. But Wrana’s family says the officers’ claims are dubious because the elderly man was barely able to get around with the help of a cane or walker.
Furthermore, the lawsuit says, Wrana committed no crime by refusing treatment in the first place.
“At all relevant times, Mr. Wrana was alone in his private residence and had committed no crime by refusing to be transported to the hospital. Defendants were without lawful authority to enter his residence, and there was no immediate lawful reason to implement any police action against Mr. Wrana, including the use of police tactical intervention,” states the complaint.
The officers are being sued for unreasonable seizure, failure to train and supervise, conspiracy, wrongful death, violation of due process, excessive force, assault and battery and emotional distress.