Thursday, January 15, 2015

John Wrana's death and Police Use of Force

Park Forest Police Officer Craig Taylor is on trial for killing 95 year WWII Veteran John Wrana during a July 2013 incident at the elderly man's retirement home.

During the incident, Taylor used Less than Lethal shotgun beanbag rounds when Wrana brandished a knife. Taylor fired 5 rounds and the autospy reported two rounds struck Wrana in the abdomen and one in the chest. Wrana died five hours later of internal bleeding from the blunt force trauma.

Now, Taylor wasn't the only Officer present, four other Park Forest officers responded as well. During testimony, two of the others stated they were in fear of their lives during the incident, with the on scene Surpervisor testifying, "I thought deadly force was authorized and we were using reasonable force under the circumstances."

However, a use of force expert and former Secret Service surpervisor Francis Murphy, referred to the 5 officers' tactics as "officer-created jeopardy", criticized their decision making, and offered up several alternatives they should have used,
"They didn't start by giving it a cooling-off time. They kept going into his room and agitating him."
Murphy did testify trying to shield rush Wrana or using pepper-spray could have jeopadized the officers or caused serious injuries to Wrana as well.

Do the facts that Wrana was a white 95 year old WWII veteran and Taylor is an African-American have anything to do with the decision to prosecute? I don't know.

I do know something about this type of incident, having responded to several near exact situations. In a recent one, I responded to a call out to an Hospice/Elder Care building.

At 2 in the morning an elderly, confused, angry and frightened man had somehow gotten an old claw hammer (not an Estwing) which he had hit a nurse in the shoulder and was outisde his room pounding on doors and furniture.

My on duty sergeant and another officer showed up. While my Sergeant chatted up the old man I moved to his side and out of his perherial vision. Several pieces of furniture had been moved around the man by members of the staff. He absent-mindedly brandished the hammer and at one point raised it up over his right shoulder. At which point I grabbed the hammer and yanked it from his grasp.

The man turned at me and demanded I return his hammer calling me a "little sneak thief". While the gentleman refused to go to his room, he sat down in a nearby chair and quickly fell asleep.

So, what should be lesson and take away from this and other Use of Force incidents?

I'm not sure. What I do know is I and other Police Officers are being counted upon more and more often to respond to incidents which really require trained medical personnel or Social Workers. But, because right-wingers have thrown in with the Guard Dogs of the Plutocracy, funding for those people and programs has been slashed mercilessly.

And now Republicans are coming to steal Social Security and working on rolling back even the modest gains from Obamacare.

5 comments:

One Fly said...

I say it's going according to plan for the right. Wait till jebber's in there.

You are correct about this.

W. Hackwhacker said...

Gene - police have a difficult, dangerous, mostly thankless job, one that you correctly say is being made more difficult by the right's conscious fraying of the social safety net. From how you described the situation you were involved in, I can only say I'm glad there are still people like you who are able to respond thoughtfully and humanely to stressful situations. Wish there were more like you.

Rational Nauseous said...

Marty King was a communist who cheated on his wife frequently. He was a tremendous advocate for Negro self-sufficiency and a color blind society.
So we honor his memory by not working, not going to school etc.
But to be honest, I think if Marty was still alive he would commit suicide, if he saw what direction the black community has taken.

Lets see all the accomplishment that the blacks have made since Marty King’s days, Black folks has denigrated so very badly, with their stupid music, stupid cloths, pants sagging down and their ass cracks showing, their willing to stand out in the cold at shoe stores for days and nights for a pair of stupid sneakers from a basketball player, Michael Jordan endorsed and made a fortune from, their teenage pregnancies and parent homes, multiple fathers to litters of children drawing welfare checks and food stamps, drinking Booze in the streets and drunk driving, pointless killings, looting and burning down homes and store and calling it “protesting” prisons chucked full of the black men, many blacks falling into the cult of Islam. Having Al Sharpton as their “Leader”
These truths are self evident! I’d bet that he didn’t DREAM that!

Oh and by the way, the guy that these black Libs seem to hate so much Ronald Reagan was the one who signed Martin Luther King Day into law .

Dervish Sanders said...

The police are supposed to de-escalate. Instead we hear more and more about them doing the opposite. Michael Brown was wounded after the initial encounter with Darren Wilson. Surely Wilson could have retreated to his vehicle and called for backup. Perhaps this officer might have considered the fact that hitting a 95 year old man with 5 bean bag rounds might harm him more than hitting a young person with the same number of rounds? It seems (as with the Eric Garner incident) they don't carefully consider their actions. Allowing a cooling off period? Yeah, that sounds commonsensical.

Police officers might have difficult, dangerous, and mostly thankless jobs... but it seems as though too many of them either aren't trained to handle the stresses of their jobs appropriately, or are incapable of handling these stresses (people who shouldn't be cops because they have the wrong temperaments and should be being screened out).

Grung_e_Gene said...

Dervish, most Officers have a difficult time de-escalating a situation. Defiance and challenge is meet with anger and the push to exert authority.

But, the difficult truth is Police Forces were not created to "Serve & Protect" but to control the Working Classes and keep the poor in check.