Family members are questioning the death of 95-year-old WWII U.S. Air Corps sergeant John Wrana who was killed at an assisted living center last month after resisting medical treatment. The elderly veteran, allegedly frail and in need of a walker, sustained blunt force injuries after being tased and shot with bean bag rounds by Park Forest, Illinois police after denying medical attention and allegedly threatening hospital personnel.
The details of the encounter are disputed. One report states that Wrana waved a kitchen knife; others claim that he merely tried to fend off medical personnel with a cane. Regardless, it is a shame that that police used forceful tactics to subdue him, ultimately leading to fatal internal bleeding. It is highly unlikely that the brutality was warranted.
Wrana's family is demanding answers, and the Illinois state police are conducting an investigation but have refused to comment. "I want answers," Wrana's stepdaughter told reporters. "I want someone held accountable."
The family lawyer stated that police used riot shields to enter his room before shooting bean-bag rounds at Wrana as he was seated in a chair, painting the picture of an incredibly violent scene one would hardly expect to take place given the nature of the conflict and condition of the elderly man.
"The Japanese military couldn't get him at the age he was touchable, in a uniform in the war. It took 70 years later for the Park Forest police to do the job," Wrana's family attorney, Nicholas Grapsas, told reporters.
Wrana was described by family members as a bright and vibrant war hero who simply didn't wish to be pushed around in the moment. Family members spoke fondly of his latest years, saying, "He was a very vital 95-year-old, let me tell you. He still played cards. He taught the 70-year-olds how to play gin rummy."
While the police action took place under the guise of an imminent threat to staff at the facility, Maria Olivia, an official at the Pathway Senior Living, told reporters the staff was kept out of the room after police arrived and did not feel threatened. "The staff was not inside once the police were on the scene," she explained, putting the degree of force used against the elderly man further into question.
The skirmish seems indicative of unnecessary police violence that should not be excused, particularly given the frailty of the veteran. The hope is that the incident will be gain deserved shock and attention and continue on to be properly investigated such that those responsible will be held accountable.