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Family demands answers after John Wrana, 95, killed in police confrontation

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Relatives of a 95-year-old man who was killed by police officers in suburban Park Forest are demanding answers about his death. John Wrana died after police used a stun gun and fired bean bags to subdue him.

Investigators say he threatened officers with a cane and a knife during the July incident.

"Why would you treat a senior citizen of that age like this? I don't understand it at all," said Sharon Mangerson, victim's stepdaughter.

Sharon Mangerson doesn't understand why police used a stun gun then shot her 95-year-old stepfather in his room at the senior home where he lived.

"At some point you've got to just think about it, this just isn't right. He's an old man, you take his cane away and he'd walk three steps and fall," said Steve Mangerson, victim's grandson.

The incident happened the evening of July 26 at Victory Center Senior Living Facilityafter an agitated Wrana refused medical attention from the staff. Paramedics were called. They then called Park Forest police who stunned Wrana to subdue him. When that didn't work, the six cops used a riot shield to come through his room door, then shot him in the stomach with a bean bag round from a shotgun as he sat in his chair.

Wrana eventually died from internal bleeding. Doctors said if he did survive surgery, he'd likely be on life support.

"John told Sharon, 'Thank you for everything you've done for me. I love you and goodbye." That was it," said Nicholas Grapsas, family attorney.

Illinois State Police are investigating the incident but wouldn't comment on Monday. Neither did Park Forest police, who have said they had no choice after the World War Two veteran, who used a walker or cane, threatened retirement home workers and paramedics with a 2-foot-long metal shoehorn, a metal cane and then a 12-inch butcher knife.

But an attorney for the Wrana family says excessive force was used.

"I believe that doing this from five feet away, on a gentleman that's having a delusion episode that stems from a urinary tract infection, and that they were in fact briefed on this situation, briefed on his physical background. I believe that the knife in and of itself does not make this a lesser excessive use of force," said Nicholas Grapsas, family attorney.

John Wrana and Mangerson's mother, Helen, were married for more than 30 years. Helen died in 2005. He was honorably discharged as a sergeant after serving in India and Burma during the war.

"Somebody has to be held accountable for what occurred with him. It was very unnecessary," said Sharon Mangerson.

The family's attorney says they have not yet filed a lawsuit. They are waiting for investigations to conclude.

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