Police Kill 95-Year-Old Nursing Home Resident With Taser, Bean Bag Shot

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A 95-year-old resident of a Chicago-area assisted-living nursing home was killed after police attempted to subdue him Friday with a Taser and bean bag rounds shot from a gun.

According to a press release issued by the police department in Park Forest, Ill., officers were called to assist with subduing 95-year-old John Warna, allegedly combative because he did not want to be restrained and forced to undergo an “involuntary” medical procedure at the Victory Centre of Park Forest, the assisted-living facility where he resided.

Warna allegedly had held the medical staff at bay with a long shoehorn and a walking cane. When police arrived, he allegedly dropped the shoehorn and picked up a 12-inch kitchen knife.

After resisting the cops’ demands that he put down the knife and cane and surrender for his treatment, Warna was shot with a Taser, but apparently he remained undeterred. So the cops fired bean bag rounds at Warna, which indeed forced him to drop the knife. He was taken into custody and transported to an Oak Lawn hospital, and remained responsive in the immediate aftermath of the ordeal.

However, he died early Saturday from stomach bleeding. The Cook County medical examiner’s office attributed the bleeding to “blunt force trauma” to his midsection caused by the bean bag shots. The examiner ruled the man’s death a homicide.

Bean bag rounds are made of lead shot, which is encased in a fabric bag. They can be fired from a traditional shotgun, and, like Tasers, are used to immobilize noncompliant suspects. Fired at close range, bean bag rounds typically cause traumatic injuries, such as broken ribs and internal bleeding.

Nursing home staff said Warna had not been an unruly resident before Friday’s incident.

The Park Forest Police Department is reviewing the incident. Other than the press release, which was emailed to The Chicago Tribune, there has been no other official statement from Park Forest Police Chief Clifford Butz. The Illinois State Police Public Integrity Unit is also reviewing the case.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.