Lawsuit over deadly police shooting filed

CLEVELAND - The FOX 8 I TEAM has learned a federal lawsuit has been filed over the shooting death of 21-year-old man by an off-duty Cleveland Police officer.

The officer shot and killed Thomas Yatsko. It happened in January during a confrontation outside the Corner Alley, a nightspot in University Circle.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday by Nicholas DiCello, on behalf of Yatsko’s parents Melissa Yatsko and Darian Allen. The suit names several defendants including Sgt. Dean Graziolli, the city of Cleveland , and the Corner Alley Uptown, LLC.

The suit claims officer Dean Grazioli used excessive force.

“Thomas Yatsko endured and suffered extreme, physical, mental and emotional pain and suffering and his untimely death including pre-death terror,” the suit states.

Police say Yatsko and a friend were asked to leave the bar after a fight. Yatsko was waiting outside when Grazioli had words with him, that led to a scuffle, and then the officer fired shots. Investigators say Yatsko was unarmed.

The lawsuit also says “while Mr. Yatsko was standing still, approximately 4-6 feet from Defendant Graziolli, Defendant Graziolli fired his weapon striking Thomas twice. Mr. Yatsko was not moving toward or advancing toward Defendant Graziolli at the time Graziolli fired and had no weapons in his possession or anything that could be perceived as a weapon.”

An official with the Fraternal Order of Police, however, states Graziolli was attacked and was defending himself.

This comes as the shooting is being reviewed by the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department to determine if the use of force was justified.

Calls made to reach the defendants to discuss the suit were not immediately returned.