Park Forest cop charged in 95-year-old WWII veteran's death - KMSP-TV

Park Forest cop charged in 95-year-old WWII veteran's death

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PARK FOREST, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

A south suburban police officer has been charged with reckless conduct in connection with the death of a 95-year-old veteran at an assisted-living center last year.

Park Forest officer Craig Taylor, 43, faces a felony count of reckless conduct in connection with John Wrana's death on July 26, 2013, according to the Cook County State's Attorney's office.

Taylor, who has been with the department since 2004, appeared in bond court Wednesday and was released on a personal recognizance bond, according to the state's attorney's office.

Wrana, a distinguished U.S. Air Corps sergeant in World War II, died after he was shot in the stomach with a bean-bag gun by Taylor after he allegedly confronted police officers with a butcher knife, cane and shoehorn at his assisted-living home in Park Forest, authorities said at the time.

Police said last year the incident began when Wrana threatened paramedics and staff at Victory Centre of Park Forest with a metal cane and a 2-foot-long metal shoehorn, according to police.

They said that when officers arrived, Wrana refused to drop the items and grabbed a 12-inch butcher knife, threatening police.

Officers tried to subdue him with a stun gun, but the prongs didn't make contact with Wrana, according to prosecutors. Wrana kept moving toward the officers, and Taylor ordered him to drop the knife before firing five beanbag rounds, striking Wrana in the torso.

Taylor shot Wrana from 6-8 feet away, though the "optimum distance" when firing at a person from that weapon is a minimum of 15 feet, prosecutors allege.

Wrana suffered an internal abdominal wound, and refused surgical treatment at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he died at 2:30 a.m. the following day, according to prosecutors.

The Cook County Medical Examiner's office ruled the death a homicide.

"Police officers have very difficult jobs and they often must balance the use of force with the need for force," State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said in a statement.

"Given the other viable options to resolve this 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," Alvarez said.

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