Illinois police officer faces felony charge

A Park Forest police officer accused of killing a 95-year-old man in an altercation at a nursing home is now facing charges in connection with the death. The 43-year-old officer has been charged with reckless endangerment, a class 4 felony charge under Illinois law. He is currently free under his own recognizance pending further proceedings.

The incident occurred last year at a private assisted living home for the elderly. The victim, a World War 2 veteran, is said to have become belligerent and violent after refusing treatment for a urinary tract infection. Police were called when the man began brandishing his cane, a knife and a 2-foot metal shoehorn that police initially mistook for a machete.

In subduing the man, police are believed to have used deployed Tasers, but the initial effort proved unsuccessful. The officer charged in this case is then thought to have deployed bean bag rounds from a standard-issue shotgun. Coroner reports suggest the man died of internal bleeding, which prosecutors say was brought on by the bean bag round shots. Prosecutors also attest the officer fired the weapon closer than the suggested distance of 21 to 50 feet away from an assailant.

Reckless endangerment is a felony charge that suggests, in this case, the accused officer was not doing his job in a responsible manner. Illinois prosecutors will try to prove the officer knowingly injured the knife-wielding man in defiance of regulations. His defense team will surely review the coroner reports to determine if the officer did fire within a lethal range and also to get a better sense of the situation on the ground to help challenge the prosecution's claim that the officer acted in an inappropriate and reckless manner.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Park Forest officer charged in 95-year-old's death", John Kass, April 2, 2014

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