CLEVELAND – A woman who says she witnessed Saturday’s police involved shooting said she saw the police officer and 21-year-old man physically fighting before the officer shot him.
“No, it’s not right to fight a cop, but he didn’t attack him from behind or anything like that,” the woman told the Fox 8 I-Team. “But they were face to face, they exchanged words.”
Cleveland police say off-duty Cleveland Police Sgt. Dean Graziolli shot and killed 21-year-old Thomas Yatsko outside of the Corner Alley on Euclid Avenue Saturday night around 11.
Police and officials with the Fraternal Order of Police say the shooting happened after Yatsko attacked Graziolli. Police say Yatsko was kicked out of the bar after fighting inside, and he came back and assaulted Graziolli, who was working off-duty security.
The witness asked that she not be identified. She did call police after the shooting and gave officers a statement.
She said Yatsko was trying to get a ride home and wanted to get his jacket so he could leave.
“I don’t know who threw the first punch because everything did happen so fast but there were punches thrown on each end,” the woman said. “The body language from both was not good. You knew that nothing positive was going to come out of it.”
FOP President Brian Betley says Graziolli was viciously attacked. Betley says Graziolli received several bruises , contusions, and stitches in his mouth.
Other witnesses, who ran out to help after the shooting, said Yatsko was shot in the shoulder. Rochelle Duke said she and another applied pressure to the wound, while they waited for the ambulance.
Josh Duke said he saw blood on the officer’s face.
Yatsko’s younger brothers, Anthony and Tyler, say they are still in shock that this happened. They say their brother worked at Dunkin Donuts, was never in any criminal trouble, and always helped them out.
“He always put everyone before himself,” Anthony Yatsko said. “He tried to do the best for everybody.”
Yatsko’s mother and father said they were at the funeral home Wednesday making arrangements for their son. They are both hoping to get some answers soon.