An Illinois judge said Wednesday a Chicago-area police officer could not be held criminally responsible for the death of a 95-year-old man, whom he shot with a beanbag round during a confrontation at the man’s assisted living facility in 2013.
The Associated Press reports Cook County Judge Luciano Panici acquitted Park Forest Police Officer Craig Taylor of felony reckless conduct at the conclusion of the bench trial, saying there “was nothing criminal about his actions.”
John Wrana died of internal bleeding after being shot by four beanbag rounds in July 2013.
Taylor and several other officers were called to the suburban Chicago assisted living home after nurses there said Wrana had become agitated and would not let anyone in his room.
According to trial testimony, reported by the Chicago Tribune, officers tried twice to enter Wrana’s room but were chased out when the man threatened them with a shoehorn and a cane. On a third attempt to enter the room, Wrana was wielding a fillet knife. One officer reportedly fired a Taser at the man, but the prongs missed. Taylor was said to have then fired four beanbag rounds at Wrana, the fourth shot knocking the knife from his hand.
Wrana was later transported to a hospital to be treated for injuries sustained by the rounds, which prosecutors said travel at up to 190 mph. He died hours later after refusing to undergo surgery to repair a ruptured intestine.
State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said after the trial she was disappointed with the judge’s decision.
“I really think other actions could have been taken and more restraint shown,” Alvarez said of the shooting incident.
Panici said in his ruling that he felt he was legally required to think about Taylor’s use of force “from the perspective of the officer, not the 20/20 vision of hindsight.”
Wrana’s family declined to comment after the trial but a statement from the family’s attorney, sent to The Chicago Tribune, promised they would seek justice for their deceased loved one in civil court.
The family “looks towards their day in federal court where they believe that all (of) the persons responsible for John Wrana's homicide will be held accountable under the civil law,” the statement read.
Photo Credit: Family photo via Chicago Tribune, WikiCommons