Autopsy photos of Parma man shot and killed by Cleveland police shows physical struggle

CLEVELAND -  Autopsy photos and the medical examiner's report showed there was a physical struggle before a Parma man shot and killed by a Cleveland police officer July 4.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's office released Ficker's autopsy report Friday.

The report released Friday showed Daniel Ficker, 27, died from a gunshot wound to his trunk with lung, spinal cord and skeletal injuries. It said he had 30 additional, non-lethal injuries, including puncture wounds that indicate a Taser was used on him at least once.

The ME's report also said there were no illegal drugs in Ficker's system, but he was intoxicated. He had twice the legal driving limit of alcohol in his blood.

In the ME's report, an initial screening test makes it appear Ficker tested positive for marijuana. However, further screening revealed that no marijuana was present, according to Dr. Krista Pekarski, who performed the autopsy.

Journalists are allowed to view autopsy photos and report on what they saw.

NewsChannel5 investigator Sarah Buduson is the only reporter who viewed the photos at the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's office Friday.

Buduson said the photos show large bruises on Ficker's face and upper body. She said there were also numerous small bruises, scrapes and cuts on Ficker's body, including on Ficker's face, neck, chest, back, head, shoulders, hands and knees.

Terry Gilbert, the attorney representing Daniel Ficker's family, said the report raises questions about what led to Ficker's death.

"The bottom line is this. You have an unarmed man with two police officers coming to his house waiting for him and even if there is some kind of resistance or fight, it doesn't justify shooting him at him at close range in the chest," said Gilbert.

[ WEB EXTRA: Read the full report from the ME here: http://5.wews.com/ysU ]

Parma police said Cleveland police officer Matthew Craska shot Ficker just after midnight on July 4.

Craska and an off-duty officer, Dave Mindek, had gone to Ficker's home because Mindek suspected Ficker took jewelry from Mindek's home during a party on the night of July 3, according to Parma police.

Cleveland police radio traffic obtained by NewsChannel5 showed Craska asked permission to go to Ficker's Parma home the night of the shooting.

"See if you can get a boss's OK to go to (address) Wareham in Parma to get some further info for this," said Officer Craska on the tape.

Parma police said the officers waited for Ficker at his home until he arrived with his fiancee, Tiffany.

That's when Officer Craska confronted Ficker and shot him after Ficker became combative, according to Cleveland Police.

Before dying, Ficker can be heard on the police radio traffic telling Tiffany he loves her.

Officer: "Shots fired. male down."
Ficker: "Tiffany, I love you."

Daniel Ficker's mother, Bernadette Rolen, told NewsChannel5's Paul Kiska after the tapes were released that she finds it "hard to believe that just after midnight on a busy Fourth of July weekend that alleged missing jewelry was such a priority it couldn't wait."

Cleveland police decline to comment on the autopsy report.

The said are waiting for Parma police to complete their investigation before looking into both police officers' actions that night.

Police officers can go into another city without notifying that police department, but a Cleveland police spokesperson said officers do call the other police department ahead of time, the "majority" of the time.

Parma police are still investigating the shooting to determine if Craska's actions were justified.

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