CHICAGO (CN) - Suburban Chicago police shot a 95-year-old WWII veteran to death with bean bag rounds at short range because he refused to go to the hospital, his stepdaughter claims in court. Sharon Mangerson, stepdaughter of the late John Wrana Jr., sued the Village of Park Forest on Friday, and its police Officers Clifford Butz, Michael Baugh, Craig Taylor, Lloyd Elliot, Charlie Hoskins and Mitch Greer in Federal Court.
"On July 26, 2013, John Wrana, Jr., was twelve days shy of his 96th birthday and a resident at the Victory Center of Park Forest Assisted Living Center located in Park Forest, Illinois. On that date, 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 complaint begins.
Victory Center employees tried to get Wrana into an ambulance to go to the hospital for treatment, but he allegedly refused to leave his room. The defendant officers responded to employees' 911 call, and also were unable to persuade Wrana to leave his room and go to the hospital. The officers conferred and decided to seize Wrana by force, according to the complaint.
Upon entering the room, defendant Taylor fired "five rounds of bean bag cartridges from a 12 gauge shotgun within a distance of approximately only six to eight feet from Mr. Wrana, far less than the distance allowed for discharging that shotgun, and, consequently, savagely wounding and killing Mr. Wrana," the lawsuit states. "Mr. Wrana bled to death as a result of the shotgun wounds inflicted upon him by defendants. The Cook County Medical Examiner ruled that Mr. Wrana's death was a homicide caused by blunt force trauma to his abdomen as a result of shots fired from a bean bag shotgun."
The bean bag cartridges travel at approximately 190 miles an hour, and the manufacturer warns that "shots to the head, neck thorax, heart or spine can result in fatal injury," according to the complaint. After shooting Wrana, the officers handcuffed him, took photos of his injuries, and put him in a four-point restraint before transporting him to the hospital, the complaint states.
"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," according to the complaint. Park Forest officials told the Chicago Tribune claim that Wrana brandished a knife or cane, which justified the officers' response.
But Wrana's stepdaughter says that Wrana needed "a cane or a walker to stand up, support him, and to walk," and he could not have been a threat to the officers. The estate seeks punitive damages for violation of due process, excessive force, unreasonable seizure, failure to train and supervise, conspiracy, wrongful death, assault and battery, and emotional distress. The estate is represented by Nicholas Grapsas, of Inverness, Ill. Park Forest, pop. 22,000, is south of Chicago.