Officer Cleared in Ficker Shooting Could Face Civil Suit

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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A police officer accused of not helping a fellow officer who shot and killed a man during an altercation was found not guilty.

But the officer's legal troubles may not be over.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Robert McClelland acquitted Cleveland Police Officer David Mindek of a misdemeanor charge of dereliction of duty, late Wednesday afternoon.

"This is not what this should be about anyway; this should be about the death of my son and not whether or not someone helped in his demise," said Dan Ficker's father, Dennis Ficker.

Officer Mindek was accused of not helping out fellow officer Matthew Craska as he struggled with 27-year-old Dan Ficker last Fourth of July.

"I guess it's really not unexpected," Ficker's mother, Bernadette Rolen, told Fox 8 News.

Prosecutors say Ficker had attended a party at officer Mindek's home, and was accused of stealing jewelry.

They say Mindek, who went to Ficker's home in Parma after work to confront him, called on-duty officer Craska for assistance.

"Dave Mindek was at work and got a phone call from his wife. This is not some type of set up job; he responded. He has a right to ask for police assistance; he did," said defense attorney Pat D'Angelo.

They say a five-minute fight broke out between Officer Craska and Dan Ficker, with Ficker getting the upper hand.

Prosecutors claimed Craska shot and killed Ficker, while Officer Mindek did little to intervene.

"Officer Craska was literally fighting for his life, and Mindek tried to assist and do the best that he could. They should never have been put into that position," D'Angelo said.

In his not guilty ruling, Judge Robert McClelland noted that Officer Mindek had minor injuries and that two witnesses saw him involved in the altercation.

"The fact that he was unsuccessful in the attempts to place the handcuffs or otherwise stop the course of events does not equate with dereliction of duty," said Judge McClelland.

"The reality is that Mr. Ficker was not a good human being," said D'Angelo.

“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.

A grand jury cleared Officer Craska of any wrongdoing.

Officer Mindek could still face a civil lawsuit, and must have a hearing with city safety director Marty Flask, to determine whether any administrative rules were broken.

Until then, he will remain on office duty and away from the public.

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