Officer Not Guilty in Daniel Ficker Shooting
CLEVELAND — A veteran Cleveland police officer has been found not guilty of dereliction of duty after the shooting death of a Parma resident last year.
David Mindek, 41, had been on trial since Monday. The case was presided over by Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert McClelland who released his ruling on Wednesday afternoon.
Mindek faced the misdemeanor charge for failing to intervene in a struggle between a fellow officer and Dan Ficker, 27. The fight in Ficker’s yard ended with the Parma man being shot to death in July of 2011. Mindek was accused of not coming to the aid of fellow officer Matthew Craska as he struggled with Ficker before Ficker was fatally shot by Craska.
Hours earlier, Ficker had attended a party at officer Mindek’s house as a guest of a guest. The officer’s wife accused Ficker of stealing jewelry and both men went to Ficker’s home to confront him about the alleged theft while Mindek was off-duty, along with officer Craska, who was on-duty, but out of jurisdiction.
According to Judge McClelland’s written ruling, “there is clear evidence that the Defendant took some actions and those actions do not demonstrate a substantial lapse of due care.”
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.
After the verdict on Wednesday, Mindek’s attorney was pleased with the judge’s decision.
“Mr. Ficker was not a good human being, and his conduct on the day in question and his conduct in his life — not withstanding all the lobbying of his loved ones — is very revealing,” said Pat D’Angelo. “Mindek tried to assist and do the best that he could; they should have never been put into that position.”
Ficker’s mother, Bernadette Rolen, said the outcome was not a surprise. According to Rolen, the case has been handled improperly from the beginning, and she defended her deceased son.
“I’ve never said he’s a choirboy; I’ve never said he’s an angel; because he’s not. Nobody’s perfect; I’ve never said that from the beginning — his dad’s never said that from the beginning — but he did not deserve to get shot and killed in front of his doorstep,” said Rolen.
Rolen maintains the facts of the case presented were distorted. She believes the officers were the aggressors, and they had no right to confront her son as they did.
“The verdict today is not unexpected,” said Dan Ficker’s dad, Dennis. “I expected it before this even started, and this is not what this should be about anyways, this should be about the death of my son, and whether or not somebody helped in his demise and we’ll seek justice elsewhere.”
Following the verdict, Officer Mindek remained silent and expressed no emotion. Dan Ficker’s family has pending civil litigation against Mindek and Craska. They’ve also asked the Department of Justice to conduct an investigation.
– FOX 8 News Reporter Emily Valdez contributed to this report.