CHICAGO (STMW) — The trial of a Park Forest police officer who’s charged in the July 2013 shooting death of a 95-year-old World War II veteran likely won’t take place until next year, the officer’s lawyer said.
Terry Ekl, who’s defending Craig Taylor on a felony charge of reckless conduct, also filed a motion demanding a speedy trial within 160 days, during a hearing Tuesday at the Cook County courthouse in Markham.
But after the hearing, Ekl said he didn’t see a trial date being set before Christmas. He said the case “should be tried rapidly so everyone can move on, move on with their lives,” and that Taylor is “anxious to get it over with.”
Taylor, a Park Forest officer since 2004, is on paid leave pending the outcome of his criminal case.
He and five other Park Forest officers also face a wrongful death lawsuit filed in June by relatives of John Wrana, who died from injuries incurred when Taylor fired a beanbag shotgun at him during a disturbance at the senior citizens home where Wrana resided. The village also is a defendant in the $5 million federal lawsuit.
Circuit Court Judge Luciano Panici ordered Ekl to turn over to prosecutors any notes or other documents that might have been written by an expert witness for the defense who has reviewed the case in advance of the trial. Lawyers are scheduled to return before Panici on Oct. 17.
Taylor and other officers were called to the an assisted-living center, Victory Centre of Park Forest, on July 26, 2013, after Wrana refused medical treatment for what the staff believed was a urinary tract infection and became unruly.
The situation rapidly deteriorated after Wrana turned violent, brandishing at paramedics a knife and a long shoehorn that was mistaken for a machete, according to police.
Taylor fired five beanbag rounds at Wrana at close range, hitting him in the chest, stomach and arm, and a police commander, Michael Baugh, used a riot shield to push the elderly man to the floor, according to Nicholas Grapsas, an attorney representing Wrana’s relatives in their federal lawsuit.
Attorney Jim Sotos, defending the village and officers in that lawsuit, has said that once Wrana came toward them with the knife, the officers were legally justified in using lethal force.
Grapsas has claimed that Wrana was suffering from an illness that caused his behavior to become erratic, but he was not a threat to the officers.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2014. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)