Accusations of police brutality and excessive force have been plentiful in recent years; however, some seem much harder to understand than others. The shooting death of a nonagenarian inside of a nursing home last year, for instance, struck his community as an unconscionable breach.

John Wrana, a World War II veteran nearing his 96th birthday, was targeted by police after refusing medical treatment. Somehow, authorities concluded the extremely elderly and sick man who cannot walk unaided was armed and dangerous.

Police entered his room with force, brandishing a Taser, shotgun, handgun, and a riot shield. When the Taser blast failed to hit its target, reports indicate 43-year-old Park Forest officer Craig Taylor fired five beanbag rounds at the infirm man, leading to his death a short time later due to internal bleeding.

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Officers apparently thought the nearly century-old Wrana was brandishing a machete. The item in his hand was later determined to be a shoehorn.

For his transgression, the man was hit multiple times by shotgun-propelled beanbags travelling nearly 200 miles per hour. Taylor reportedly shot Wrana when he was only about six or eight feet away despite the fact that such rounds are designed to be employed from distances about four times as great.

Taylor appeared in court this week, and prosecutors revealed that he refused to handle the situation peacefully.

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“Other viable options to deescalate and resolve the matter safely were ignored,” a court document declared, including something as simple as trying to talk to Wrana before barging into his room.

“Even after the missed Taser attempt,” the document continued, “the officers still could have safely retreated from his room before resorting to violence, and the Defendant himself chose to open fire on Wrana failing to consider the full effect that five beanbag round fired in quick succession, from close range, would have upon a 95-year-old man.”

He is facing a Class 4 felony charge of reckless conduct for which, if convicted, he could get off with no jail time whatsoever.

A family attorney said that while Wrana’s survivors are “pleased that it’s finally been addressed and reviewed,” the investigation has “taken far, far too long.”

–B. Christopher Agee

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Photo Credit: Thomas Bjørkan (Creative Commons)