CLEVELAND – Closing arguments were made in the case of a Cleveland police officer accused of dereliction of duty for failing to intervene in a struggle between a fellow officer and a Parma man, which ended with the Parma man being shot to death.
“His conduct, by not acting, leads to the death of Daniel Ficker,” Assistant County Prosecutor Brian McDonough said.
Cleveland police officer David Mindek faces a misdemeanor charge, accused of not coming to the aide of fellow officer Matthew Craska as he reportedly struggled with 27-year-old Dan Ficker, which ended with Craska fatally shooting Ficker around midnight of July 4th, 2011.
The day before, Ficker attended a party at officer Mindek’s home as a guest of a guest.
The officer’s wife accused Ficker of stealing jewelry.
Officer Mindek went to Ficker’s Parma home to confront him about the alleged theft while he was off-duty, along with officer Craska, who was on-duty, but out of jurisdiction.
A fight broke out and Craska shot Ficker after a five-minute fight, according to court testimony from Craska.
During the hearing, Craska said his glasses fell off and he could not see well, Ficker got the upper hand in the fight, and the officer feared for his life so he shot Ficker one time.
“You stop it. You neutralize the threat and you do what you can to protect your partner’s life. You don’t stand back and simply watch,” McDonough said.
During closing arguments Tuesday, the prosecution called Mindek a coward.
The defense said Mindek helped Craska by pulling Ficker’s leg off of Craska’s neck when he had him in a leg-hold, and by getting on of Ficker’s wrists in handcuffs.
At one point the defense asked the judge to dismiss the case. He did not.
“Dave Mindek is not a criminal. He is not a coward,” said Defense Attorney Pat D’Angelo, adding Mindek acted as he did because he is human.
Ficker’s mother maintains the facts of the case being presented are distorted.
She believes the officers were the aggressors and had no right to confront her son as they did.
“He wasn’t being placed under arrest. They didn’t have a warrant to search. They didn’t have anything, so that was Dan’s right to say, ‘No, I don’t want to,’ and then Craska had to pull him out of the car?” Ficker’s mother, Bernadette Rolen, said.
A grand jury cleared Craska of any wrong doing for shooting Ficker.
As for Mindek’s fate, the judge hopes to have his decision by Wednesday afternoon.