Chicago Suburban Cop Awaiting Verdict On Felony Reckless Conduct

Craig Taylor

Craig Taylor

Park Forest, Illinois Officer Craig Taylor is charged with felony reckless conduct for the July 2013 death of 95- year old, World War II veteran John Wrana. John was a resident of the Victory Centre senior assisted living facility.

44-year old Craig Taylor is an 11-year veteran patrol officer. On July 26, 2013, a staff member reported that John was combative with emergency workers trying to care for him. Taylor was one of five officers dispatched. Mercury News reports;

 “According to court documents, when the officers entered his room they saw Wrana holding a long metal object that officers believed was a knife or machete, but was actually a shoe horn. Wrana did pick up a knife and threaten the officers with it, and he refused their orders to drop it.”

Prosecutors say that Taylor fired bean bags at John 5 times, hitting him in the abdomen and the hand in which John was holding the knife.

John Wrana

John Wrana

Training standards state that bean bag shoots have an optimum distance of 15 to 60 feet. All of the shots fired by Taylor were no more than 8 feet away. Prosecutors say that Taylor fired 5 beanbags in rapid succession into John’s abdomen from 6 to 8 feet away. John died from internal bleeding.

Taylor went through a bench trial. There is no jury and the judge decides the verdict. Taylor’s trial lasted 4 days, and was presided over by Judge Luciano Panici, who will render his verdict on the reckless conduct charge on Friday.

The days events included that police officers had gone into John’s room twice. They retreated because John threatened them first with a long red-handled shoehorn and his black metal cane, later with a filet knife with a 7-inch blade.

Taylor testified that he was in fear for his life when John resisted attempts to take him to a hospital by shouting obscenities and brandishing a filet knife and cane.

Cmdr. Michael Baugh arrived at the scene with a black metal ballistics shield along with Taylor, whom Baugh had instructed to bring the “less-lethal” shotgun — a Mossberg 12-gauge colored orange as a warning to officers to use only beanbag rounds. Baugh instructed Cpl. Lloyd Elliot to form a single-file line to enter Wrana’s home with Baugh in the lead carrying the shield and Taser.

According to testimony, Cpl. Lloyd Elliot was behind Taylor, with his handgun drawn, ready to open fire if the bean bag blasts did not cause John to drop the knife.

The prosecutor argued that the group included two officers who were in excess of 6 feet tall and another one who weighed more than 300 pounds, that she said was a ridiculously mismatched force mustered against Wrana, who stood 5-foot-5 and weighed 160 pounds.

Taylor was one of five officers called to the senior complex, but he was the only person charged.

State’s Attorney Regina Mescall prosecuted the case, and got into arguments with Taylor’s defense attorney who complained that Mescall’s line of questioning about John being a WWII veteran was “nothing but an attempt to create more sympathy for Mr. Wrana.”

The prosecution’s case rested heavily on Francis Murphy, a former U.S. Secret Service supervisor who testified the officers had other options and escalated the confrontation by storming Wrana’s room instead of giving him time to cool off.   The defense called Steven Ijames, a national expert on the use of less-lethal force who said the officers used admirable restraint.

According to reporter John Kass of the Chicago Tribune, the Park Forest police department has photos of John Wrana’s last hours, showing the old man’s bloody hands handcuffed behind him in a hard chair in his apartment at his assisted-living center.

In July 2014, the Wrana’s family filed a $5 million lawsuit against Taylor, the other officers involved and the village of Park Forest.

The Young Turks report;

FEBRUARY 4, 2015 UPDATE

ABC News reports that Cook County Judge Luciano Panici has acquitted Taylor.  Judge Panici said there was nothing criminal about Taylor’s actions and that the officer did “what he was trained to do.”

 

Posted on 02/02/2015, in Cases, Cops Gone Wild, John Wrana and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. “Taylor was one of five officers called to the senior complex, but he was the only person charged.”

    Interesting, isn’t it..

    Like

    • Hey Mindyme. I get the feeling that if Taylor is convicted and gets sentenced (rather than probation), that we might hear from him concerning why he was the only officer charged.

      Like

      • yahtzeebutterfly

        Probably because he was the only officer that fired the 5 bean bag shots. He probably forgot he was too close…that at 8 feet away bean bag shots can be deadly and cause internal damage.

        Like

        • Yahtzeebutterfly,
          We don’t have photos of the studio apartment but from what I’ve seen at assisted living centers, those rooms are barely 12 feet in any direction.

          Like

          • You are right!! These apartments are very small and this is partly why I find this situation unsettling. As per the story, “Cmdr. Michael Baugh arrived at the scene with a black metal ballistics shield along with Taylor, whom Baugh had instructed to bring the “less-lethal” shotgun — a Mossberg 12-gauge colored orange as a warning to officers to use only beanbag rounds.” The Commander knows the size of the room and he is the one who recommended using this weapon. He placed Officer Taylor in an untenable situation. It should be his rear end in the hot seat.

            Like

            • Hey Gronda!

              He placed Officer Taylor in an untenable situation. It should be his rear end in the hot seat.

              I agree. Also, the time has come when people should think very hard before they call 911. Too many innocent people are losing their lives when cops are called to help, but the person needing held ends up in their grave.

              Like

      • yahtzeebutterfly

        I now have studied the case more, Xena, and better understand your comment. It was a group action with Taylor following orders…

        Like

  2. Officer Taylor was under instructions as to how to proceed in this situation. I am outraged at what happened but why is one officer who was following his superior’s orders being thrown under the bus. This does not pass the smell test.

    Like

    • yahtzeebutterfly

      I didn’t realize that he was just following orders. The superior is the one actually responsible then.

      Like

    • Hey Gronda,
      I suspect that the judge will render a verdict of not guilty, or guilty with probation. Defense attorneys have reasons for bench trials without juries. One of those reasons consists of, “Yeah. I did it BUT …” and the judge considers the “but” and issues the lesser sentence.

      Like

  3. Two sides to a story

    What is wrong with cops today? When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I worked in small hospitals in a state composed mostly of rural areas where it wasn’t uncommon to have someone in a room for a night who is unruly and fighting an additiction problem, someone just in from a wild drunken spree, or someone like this elderly gentleman who perhaps has Alzheimers’ or who becomes unruly and disoriented after a surgery or an accident. Now and then nurses’ had to call cops for some some extra hands in these situatioins. I never once saw a cop do the sorts of harm they do now – they were hands-on, not fearful of violent drunks and certainly not old guys with shoehorns. What the the heck happened in the mind of soldiers and cops in the last forty years? They can’t seem to handle any sort of situation without undue violence now.

    Like

    • Two sides,

      What the the heck happened in the mind of soldiers and cops in the last forty years?

      The same thing that has happened with the microwave, text message, cell phone generation. Communications are no longer in full sentences and when people have time to give attention to others, and everything has to be done NOW. Combine that with the sense of unquestioned authority, and we see the harmful results.

      Like

  4. Two sides to a story

    Duly noted that this cop is black, and though he killed fired the deadly beanbags, he makes the perfect scapegoat for his superiors, does he not? Bet they’d do nothing if the guy were white.

    Like

    • Two sides,
      Reading about the story, you are on the same page as a blogger who said that Taylor was a “scapegoat.” He did shoot not one, but 5 beanbags in fast succession, but his superior officer was right there leading the way too.

      Like

  5. roderick2012

    Why did they need five officers instead of say two or at most three?

    This is overkill ( no pun intended).

    The veteran obviously had some form of dementia, and these cops have zero patience regardless of the situation.

    Like

    • Roderick,

      Why did they need five officers instead of say two or at most three?

      Good question. Like the Young Turks said, (my paraphrase) the one cop with the shield should have been sufficient to “disarm” a frail 95 year old.

      Like

  6. wow again a pathetic display of police violence & excessive aggression against a 100 yo!!
    the old the young the infirmed.
    I appreciate the prosecution mentioning the huge discrepancies in size, 2 cops over 6′ and a 300pounder couldn’t calm down a 5’5 little old man without blasting him a few in the belly!

    sickos! they should all be charged of course. i love the bench trial for police but hopefully the ‘bench’ isn’t another enabler. but the defense choose the bench trial, so they must feel they had an even BETTER chance with that judge.

    Like

    • Shannon,

      i love the bench trial for police but hopefully the ‘bench’ isn’t another enabler.

      I feel the same. Come Friday when the judge announces his decision, I suppose we’ll know.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t get it. is it making fun of diversity as a joke or what???….maybe if i take an Adderall &watch it again i can concentrate better & figure it out! LMAO

    Like

  8. Finally progress.

    oh wait, do we see a trend?

    New York (AFP) – A New York police officer was charged with assault in Brooklyn on Tuesday after allegedly stomping on the head of a suspect lying on the ground, officials said.

    The indictment against a serving officer follows protests across the United States demanding legal reforms after a series of police killings of unarmed black men passed without censure.

    Joel Edouard, 37, was charged with one count of third-degree assault, one count of third-degree attempted assault and one count of official misconduct in connection with the July 23 incident.

    He is the third policeman indicted in three months by prosecutors in Brooklyn who are investigating at least six other cases of police brutality, officials confirmed.

    Cell phone video shows the black officer briefly pointing his gun at suspect Jahmiel Cuffee, 32, who is also black, then stomping on his head while he was being handcuffed by other officers.

    http://news.yahoo.com/york-policeman-charged-assault-224325120.html?soc_src=copy

    Like

  9. ANNOUNCEMENT
    I just updated the article. Taylor has been acquitted.

    Like

    • yahtzeebutterfly

      Thanks for this update, Xena.

      “The tragic death of John Wrana shouldn’t happen again”
      http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/7/71/345196/tragic-death-john-wrana-shouldnt-happen

      Excerpt:

      Obviously, common sense could have prevented this tragedy.

      It is still unclear why trained staff failed to restrain Wrana and called in armed police officers to subdue the elderly man.

      Even more troubling, why was Taylor the only police officer charged with a crime since he was following orders from his supervisor?

      Taylor was left to shoulder the burden of what turned out to be a bad strategy.

      Obviously, Wrana’s family and supporters were devastated by their loss.

      They deserved answers about why so many people made bad decisions that day.

      But it was unfair to put all of the blame on Taylor when everyone who encountered Wrana apparently failed him.

      Frankly, this was a tragedy that could have been avoided had staff members been better trained to deal with combative residents.

      Additionally, Wrana’s death set off alarms for every family dealing with an aging loved one.

      Because we are worried about the quality of care, many of us are reluctant to put our elderly relatives in senior care facilities despite the hardship it causes when we try to provide care.

      What happened to Wrana in a place that was supposed to be a safe haven confirmed our worst nightmares.

      It is my hope that this tragedy will motivate officials at other senior care facilities to review their policies regarding how staff handles combative residents.

      This senseless tragedy can’t be allowed to happen to anyone else.

      Like

      • Yahtzeebutterfly,
        What the judge said absolutely floored me. It lacked compassion and approved inhuman treatment and killing.

        Like

%d bloggers like this: