South Suburban Police Officer Faces Felony Charges for Death of Senior Citizen
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced charges against a Park Forest police officer, who currently faces felony charges for the death of a 95-year-old man during 2013 shooting at a senior citizen facility.
Craig Taylor, 43, a south suburban police officer of Park Forest since 2004, was charged with Reckless Conduct for shooting John Wrana, 95, a World War II veteran five times with a shotgun beanbag rounds, causing internal abdominal bleeding, which ultimately led to the death of the older man.
Prosecutors claimed that on July 26, 2013, Officer Taylor along with four other police officers and their police commander responded to a 911 call from the Victory Center Retirement Home – an assistive living community for senior citizens in Park Center. According to facility employees, the emergency call was made to report the current situation. Wrana had apparently caused a scene in the facility and was aggressive with the emergency medical technicians, refusing to be transported to a hospital for medical treatment.
The police officers were armed with a ballistic shield, a taser, the less-lethal shotgun, and firearms. Upon the arrival of the officers in duty, Wrana was found in his room in an agitated state and holding a weapon identified as a long metal shoehorn. Prior to using force, the Officers who responded to the emergency call has tried to settle the conflict through peaceful negotiation; however, Wrana refused to cooperate with the police officers and armed himself with a knife instead.
The defendant claimed that during the incident, Wrana held the 12-inch fillet knife in offensive stance, to which he feared for his life and those of his fellow police officers. Wrana reportedly screamed at the officers and demanded them to leave his room. The police commander then tried to use a taser on Wrana but failed to make contact with the older man.
After which, it was reported that Wrana attempted to move closer to the police officers, and when he ignored Officer Taylor’s order for him to drop the weapon, Officer Taylor began firing five shots of beanbag rounds at Wrana, hitting him in the torso. At the time, Wrana was approximately six to eight feet from Officer Taylor, who just fired the less-lethal shotgun. Paramedics immediately rushed Wrana to the St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights but was then transferred to Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn. Physicians declared that Wrana sustained an internal abdominal wound, which was bleeding actively and needed surgery. The older man and his family refused to have the life-saving surgery, which ultimately led to the death of Wrana on July 27, 2013, at 2:30 am.
Despite the refusal of surgery that could have potentially saved the life of Wrana, the family persistently argued Officer Taylor used excessive force during the encounter, in which prosecutors vouched that, according to training standards, the optimum distance when firing the less-lethal shotgun at a human target is at a minimum of 15 feet and a maximum of 60 feet.
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez issued a statement regarding the case, saying, “police officers have very difficult jobs, and they often must balance the use of force with the need for force. 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.”
Officer Craig Taylor appeared in bond court on April 2, 2014, at the Leighton Criminal Courts building in Chicago, and was given a personal recognized bond.
With the provided criminal documents containing allegations that are not evidence of guilt, the public is reminded that the defendant shall be presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the state has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Updated: August 17, 2020