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Anita Alvarez
Cook County State's Attorney
Communications Department
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 603-3423
saomedia@cookcountyil.gov


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

April 2, 2014

Park Forest Police Officer Charged
In Connection With Death Of Senior Citizen


A south suburban police officer has been charged with felony reckless conduct in connection with the death of a 95-year-old man who was struck five times with shotgun beanbag rounds as the officer and others attempted to take the man into custody at the senior citizen facility where he lived, according to the Office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.

Park Forest Police Officer Craig Taylor, 43, has been charged with one felony charge of Reckless Conduct in the 2013 shooting, which caused internal abdominal bleeding that ultimately led to the death of John Wrana.

Taylor appeared in bond court today at the Leighton Criminal Courts building in Chicago where he was given a personal recognizance bond.  He has been a police officer in Park Forest since 2004. 

According to prosecutors, the incident occurred on July 26, 2013 at the Victory Centre in Park Forest, an assisted living community for senior citizens.  Staff members at the facility called 911 for police assistance after Wrana became combative with emergency medical technicians who were attempting to transport him to a hospital for medical treatment. 

When officers arrived and opened the door to Wrana’s studio apartment, he was in an agitated state and holding a long metal object later identified as a shoe horn.  Officers made several attempts to speak with Wrana but he refused to cooperate with police or surrender. Wrana then grabbed a kitchen knife and yelled for officers to leave his apartment. 

According to prosecutors, a Park Forest police commander and four officers entered Wrana’s apartment armed with a ballistic shield, a Taser, the less-lethal shotgun and a firearm.  After ordering Wrana to drop the knife several times, the commander deployed his Taser but its prongs failed to make contact with Wrana.  

When Wrana moved further toward the officers, Taylor ordered him to drop the knife and then fired five beanbag rounds which struck Wrana in the torso.  Taylor was approximately six to eight feet from Wrana when he fired the less-lethal shotgun.  According to prosecutors, the optimum distance when firing at a human target for this weapon according to training standards is a minimum of 15 feet and a maximum of 60 feet.

Paramedics transported Wrana to St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights and he was then transferred to Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn where doctors determined that Wrana had suffered an internal abdominal wound that was bleeding and required surgery.  Ultimately, Wrana refused surgical treatment and he died at the hospital at 2:30 am on July 27. 

“Police officers have very difficult jobs and they often must balance the use of force with the need for force,” said State’s Attorney Alvarez.  “Given the other viable options to resolve the matter and the number of shots fired at this senior citizen at close range in rapid succession, we believe this officer’s conduct to be reckless.”

The public is reminded that criminal charging documents contain allegations that are not evidence of guilt.  The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the state has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

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