There is a disturbing report out of Chicago where police were called when 95-year-old world War II veteran John Wrana refused to go to a hospital for a urinary tract infection. Called by paramedics to assist in getting Wrana into an ambulance, the Park Forest police showed up in riot gear and proceeded to shoot Wrana first with a stun gun and then with a bead bag fired from a shotgun. He no longer needed treatment for the urinary tract problem. He died from internal bleeding and blunt force trauma. He was about to celebrate his 96th birthday.
Wrana was reportedly frail and had difficulty walking. We have previously discussed other cases involving the killing of a bedridden elderly woman and an unarmed suicide case. The cases raise serious questions of the rapid escalation of such cases in the level of force used by police as well as the increasing use of “non-lethal devices” as a first response to threats.
Wrana was living in an assisted-living facility. Paramedics told police that he was threatening them with a metal shoehorn and a knife. Some reports indicate that Wrana had decided that he did not want to go through an operation. That may have been the reason why he was resisting. He said that he understood that not having the operation could kill him but decided against it. It is not clear whether he was declared incompetent before the attempt to force him to go to the hospital.
The family contests the claim of the knife. Even if he had a knife, it is hard to see why police could not stand back (particularly since they had riot shields) and avoid using such force on an individual who clearly would be a risk with either a stun gun or bean bag round. Even if the blunt trauma did not finish him off, the shock could easily trigger a heart attack in a near 96 year old man. Some reports indicate that multiple rounds of bean bags may have been used.
Wrana was U.S. Air Corps veteran who served in Burma and India during World War II. Sergeant Wrana survived the hellish fighting in Burma but would later die in the United States just short of this 96 birthday in a confrontation with police. Truly bizarre.
Just for the record. These bean bag rounds are often thought of as harmless, almost toy-like devices. The bean bags fired form a shotgun will initially travel at around 300-400 feet a second (though they have a range of 70 feet). They have been shown to break ribs and even push broken ribs into the heart. Internal bleeding is a well-known risk.