*Kass: Was police killing of 95-year-old necessary?
Common sense tells me that cops don't need a Taser or a shotgun to subdue a 95-year-old man.
But according to Maria Oliva, an executive with Pathway Senior Living, the staff was kept out of the room after police arrived. So there was no imminent threat to staff.
"The staff was not inside once the police were on the scene," Oliva told us. "At different times the staff were in there, but not when they were called. They (the police) were in charge at that point."
Police said there had been threats made against the staff. But Grapsas said he was told that staff begged to be allowed to try to calm down the old man.
"If there were threats to the staff, why did the staff want to intervene and say, 'Let us handle this; we'll get him calmed down'?" he asked.
Grapsas says he was told that police used a riot shield to come through the door before shooting bean-bag rounds at the old man as he sat in his chair.
Riot shields are used to push back mobs of angry young protesters in the streets, or against dangerous convicts in prison cells, not to subdue an old, old man in a chair.
"At some point, I'm told there were between five and seven police officers, they went back to the room with a riot shield in hand, entered the door and shot him with a shotgun that contained bean-bag rounds," Grapsas said.
If this is true and police had a riot shield, why on earth would they need a shotgun?
Most veteran cops I talked to suspect this is a case of unnecessary force. I've never met a police officer who couldn't handle a 95-year-old man in a walker. And John Wrana wasn't Jason Bourne. He was an old war veteran who didn't want to be pushed around.
But one senior police official who has trained police recruits in defensive tactics had a different take.
"When I first heard it, I was like, 'C'mon,'" he said. "Then I thought it through. We don't know what occurred. We don't know what information they had at that time. If you don't have all of the facts, it's hard to judge someone. … Anyone can be dangerous."
Sharon Mangerson, 74, doesn't see her stepfather as dangerous.
Wrana and Mangerson's mother, Helen, were married for more than 30 years. Helen died in 2005. So Wrana lived with Mangerson in the south suburbs until his health — and her health — began to fail.
She said he was a fiercely independent member of the greatest generation, honorably discharged as a sergeant after serving in India and Burma during the war.
"He was a very vital 95-year-old, let me tell you. He still played cards. He taught the 70-year-olds how to play gin rummy," she said in an interview. "I used to admire him so much because he was able to keep doing those type of things. As independent as they come, trust me."
On the night of the incident, he wound up at Advocate Christ Medical Center. The doctor was on the phone with Mangerson, telling her that even if Wrana survived surgery, he'd likely be on life support. Wrana wanted to talk to her. The doctor held the phone up to his ear, she said.
"He just said, 'Thank you for everything you've done for me. I love you and goodbye,'" Mangerson recalled, her voice cracking. "That was it."
Will the family ever get an explanation?
"I want answers," she said. "I want someone held accountable."*
My take on it is that the old man, for reasons of his own, wanted to commit Suicide By Cop -- and knew the local police well enough to guess how to pull it off. This in turn implies that the local cops are always like that: dangerous, bullying, cowardly pigs. In that case, the old war hero may have committed one last act of heroism: sacrificing his life to bring a thundering lawsuit down on the pigs' heads, a lawsuit that will strip them to their back teeth and make them a byword all over the country, if not the world.
This incident inspired Rasty to come up with a fitting monument for John Wrana: ironically, a parallel to the the famous Darwin Awards. He proposes a website for the "Coward of the Year Award". It will include a candidate form, where anyone can -- for e-submitting a fee of $2 -- propose a candidate, tell who and where the candidate is, and explain just why the candidate deserves the award. Anyone can -- for an e-fee of $1 -- vote on any of the proposed candidates. At the end of the year, the candidate who wracked up the most votes (and therefore money) will be presented with the award: a fancy scroll describing his/her winning deed, and a one-way plane ticket to any other country. Is there anybody out there who has the computer expertise to set up this website? If so, please contact me.
Now, what shall we call the award? The White Feather? The Jelly Spine? Suggestions are likewise welcome.