As a 21-year-old unarmed man lay bleeding to death on a cold street outside of a Cleveland bowling alley, the cop who shot him didn’t call for help, a new lawsuit claims.
Thomas Yatsko’s parents filed a federal lawsuit against the cop, the city of Cleveland, and the bowling alley on Tuesday. Darian Allan and Melissa Yatsko accuse Sgt. Dean Graziolli, who worked as a security guard at Corner Alley Uptown, of using excessive force against their son, and failing to call for medical attention after the shooting, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit accuses the alley of negligence and improperly training security guards. Yatsko’s family are seeking damages and lawyer’s fees.
Hours before his death on January 14, Yatsko was at the bowling alley with friends when he got into an argument and was asked to leave by owners, according to the lawsuit. Yatsko complied and was escorted outside by Graziolli, the lawsuit claims. While Yatsko was waiting for a ride home, Graziolli confronted Yatsko “in an aggressive and belligerent manner, swore at him and told him to leave the area,” according to the lawsuit.
Graziolli identified himself as an officer during the altercation, according to Cleveland.com. The two began fighting, and Graziolli fired his gun at Yatsko twice, the lawsuit states.
“At the time Defendant Graziolli fired his gun at Thomas, Mr. Yatsko did not present any imminent or immediate threat of death or serious physical injury to Defendant Graziolli or anyone else,” according to the complaint.
Blood poured out of Yatsko’s neck and shoulder, but Graziolli yelled at passerby and customers to call 911 as he went back inside of Corner Alley, the lawsuit alleges. Yatsko was pronounced dead later that night.
Graziolli did not provide medical attention to Yatsko, according to the lawsuit, but a video viewed by Cleveland.com appears to show an officer giving medical aid to Yatsko.
“Defendant Graziolli’s conduct was so extreme and outrageous as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency and was utterly intolerable in a civilized society,” the complaint alleges.
But Cleveland police contend that Yatsko attacked Graziolli outside the alley, according to local reports. The Fraternal Order of Police told Fox 8 that Graziolli shot Yatsko in self-defense. Corner Alley has surveillance video of Yatsko’s death, according to the lawsuit, but the footage has not been released.
The officer was placed on leave after the incident, but he is still on the Cleveland police force and working at a police gym on “light duty,” according to Cleveland.com.
After Yatsko’s death, the family set up a GoFundMe to raise money for burial costs. “Thomas was a joy to be around and always put a smile on everyone’s face,” Shelby Ramlal, the page creator, wrote.
Cleveland community members also held a vigil for Yatsko in January. Brother Khalid Samad, a member of Peace in the Hood, a youth violence prevention organization, told Cleveland 19: “You go from breaking up a fight, separating people and the next thing we know a young man is laid out on that concrete with two bullet holes in him?”
“Sounds like murder to me,” Samad added.