Park Forest cop pleads not guilty in bean bag incident
By Nick Swedberg Correspondent April 29, 2014 11:58AM
Craig Taylor (right) with his attorney Terry Ekl, leaves court after his hearing Wednesday. | Rummana Hussain/Sun-Times
Updated: June 1, 2014 6:24AM
A Park Forest cop pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a charge of reckless conduct stemming from a 2013 bean bag shooting that killed a 95-year-old man.
Craig Taylor was formally arraigned Tuesday morning in a Cook County court. He is accused of firing five bean bag rounds that hit John Wrana, a World War II veteran who lived in a Park Forest senior citizens home, on July 26, 2013.
Authorities said an agitated Wrana struck an emergency medical technician and threatened to stab police with a knife he was holding inside the senior citizen home when the shooting occurred.
A 43-year-old veteran of the Park Forest Police Department, Taylor could face up to three years in prison if convicted.
Taylor is on administrative leave from the department and is doing “relatively well,” said attorney Terry Ekl, who is representing the accused officer. He said Taylor has the support of the community.
“He’s not some cowboy or overly aggressive police officer,” Ekl said.
After arriving at the senior citizens home, Park Forest officers attempted to calm Wrana, authorities said. Police originally mistook a 2-foot long shoehorn Wrana was holding for a blade. A police corporal who arrived on scene found Wrana holding a large knife.
Police tried to subdue Wrana with a stun gun but were unsuccessful, authorities said. Taylor then shot one bean bag from a shotgun about 7 feet from Wrana and then fired four more. He suffered internal bleeding and died the next day at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.
Wrana’s 75-year-old stepdaughter, Sharon Mangerson, spoke after the arraignment and said she did not believe her stepfather deserved the treatment he received from police.
“Somebody has to be held accountable,” she said.
Attorney Nicholas Grapsas, who represents Wrana’s estate, said police handcuffed Wrana to a chair to await the arrival of another ambulance, even though one already was at the senior citizen home.
“To say this was horrific is an understatement,” Grapsas said.
The family likely will pursue a wrongful death lawsuit, Grapsas said. Taylor is due back in Cook County court June 4.