Family questions elderly man’s death in Park Forest
BY CASEY TONER firstname.lastname@example.org September 16, 2013 10:39PM
Updated: October 18, 2013 6:24AM
Glenwood resident Sharon Mangerson was baby-sitting her grandchildren in Romeoville on July 26 when she got a hospital call from her 95-year-old stepfather, John Wrana.
During a highly charged altercation at a senior citizen residential center in Park Forest, a police officer had shot Wrana in the stomach with a bean-bag shotgun and he was dying.
“John told Sharon, ‘Thank you for everything you have done for me, I love you and goodbye,’” said Mangerson’s attorney, Nicholas Grapsas.
Mangerson, who cared for Wrana at her home for 11 years until he moved into the senior home in April, on Monday called the force that police used in the controversial shooting “truly excessive.”
“He easily could have been easily overcome by a couple of people,” she said at a news conference at Grapsas’ Chicago law office. “All they had to do was throw a blanket over him and let him go asleep.”
Police said the incident began when Wrana, a distinguished U.S. Air Corps sergeant in World War II, threatened staff at Victory Centre of Park Forest and paramedics with a metal cane and a 2-foot-long metal shoehorn.
They said that when officers arrived, Wrana refused to drop the items, grabbed a 12-inch butcher knife and threatened police. Officers were unable to subdue him with a stun gun, and an officer then fired at Wrana with the shotgun, which propels a small bag filled with lead shot, police said.
The Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled his death a homicide. The Illinois State Police public integrity unit is investigating the incident.
Park Forest Deputy Police Chief Mike McNamara declined comment on Monday. No disciplinary action has been taken so far against any officer regarding the incident.
Grapsas gave a different version of the events that led up to Wrana’s death. He said he received the information from medical records, interviews with Victory Centre staff and a report released to the family by the senior home.
Grapsas said the disturbance began because Wrana was suffering from a urinary tract infection and was arguing with paramedics from a private company who had suggested that he should be hospitalized. When he refused to leave, paramedics called police.
“It should be noted that John was not steady on his feet at all,” Grapsas said. “He needed to stand and walk with a use of cane and/or walker.”
He said police called a supervisor as well as extra officers, and six entered Wrana’s room, one carrying a riot shield and another the bean-bag shotgun. After attempting to use a stun gun on Wrana, police fired three bean-bag rounds at Wrana, hitting him in the stomach, Grapsas said.
He said police refused to let the private paramedics take Wrana to the hospital and called fire department paramedics, who took Wrana to St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights. He was transferred to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he died.
The SouthtownStar reported last week that the bean-bag gun used against Wrana hadn’t been used on a call in 10 years.
Homewood resident Steve Mangerson, Sharon’s son and Wrana’s grandson, said the death was due to a “lack of common sense.”
“At some point, you’ve got to think about it and say, ‘hey this isn’t right,’ ” Mangerson said. “He couldn’t have charged. I think he was sitting in a chair. All I can imagine is that he was scared to death. All of a sudden, they storm in there and he’s scared to death.”
Sharon Mangerson, 74, said she “doesn’t believe in suing” police but does want someone to be held accountable. She also called for the suspension of the police officer who fired the bean-bag gun.
“I think we need some answers to these questions,” she said. “He was a good man who lived a long life. ... Why would you treat a senior citizen of that age like this? I don’t understand it at all.”