The family of an elderly man who was fatally shot with bean-bag cartridges by Chicago-area police officers has filed a wrongful death lawsuit saying that the man was “not a threat to anyone.”
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the relatives of John Wrana filed the $5 million lawsuit against six police officers and the Village of Park Forest in federal court Friday. They allege the officers should have known that the rounds, fired from a shotgun at close range, would have killed the 95-year-old man.
Wrana was killed last year in his room at the Village of Park Forest, an assisted living facility. Staff there had wanted to transport him to the hospital because they believed he was suffering from a urinary tract infection.
Wrana was combative with emergency personnel and Park Forest police when they arrived to transport him. At different times during the altercation, he threatened officers with a large knife, a 2-foot-long shoehorn and a metal cane, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Instead of waiting for him to calm down, the officers decided to remove him by force.
Upon entering the room, one officer 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,” reads the lawsuit, as quoted by Courthouse News Service.
After shooting him, the officers handcuffed Wrana, took photos of his injuries and transported him to the hospital. He refused surgery despite warnings that he was bleeding internally. Wrana died at the hospital the next day.
"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,” the lawsuit adds.
The officer who fired the rounds, Craig Taylor, was charged with felony misconduct in April.
The civil suit from the family names Taylor and the other four officers present. The family is also suing Park Forest Police Chief Clifford Butz for inadequately training the men.
Attorney Jim Sotos, who is representing Park Forest and all six officers, has accused Wrana’s family of “Monday morning quarterbacking” the decisions made by the officers. Sotos says Wrana’s death was an “undeniable tragedy” but the family is not taking into account the danger the officers were in.
The family’s attorney, Nicholas Grapsas, says the family just wants to ensure that there is accountability and that policies are put in place to prevent another tragedy.
“This was ‘Keystone Cops’ with dangerous toys,” Grapsas said.