Families encouraged, comforted to know Justice Department is investigating Cleveland police

CLEVELAND - "I've been praying for this day since day one," said Dennis Ficker, fighting back tears.

News that the U.S. Justice Department is investigating the Cleveland Police Department and its use of excessive force provided relief and encouragement to Ficker and his ex-wife Bernadette Rolan.

"This is just a little light in our tunnel that we will get the justice we're looking for," said Rolan.

With the Justice Department's help, they're hopeful that the events surrounding their son Daniel Ficker's death will finally be disclosed.

"My last words to my son in his coffin were, ‘I will see this to the end,'" he said. "We will get justice for you."

Nearly two years ago, a uniformed, on-duty Cleveland police officer shot and killed the 25-year-old Parma resident after a brief altercation at Ficker's Parma home. A second off-duty officer was also involved. Both were investigating a burglary. The shooter wasn't charged, and the other officer was charged with a misdemeanor.

"He used to come up every Sunday morning before he'd go to church and tell me everything he planned on doing and different things he wrote and see if I liked it," said Shauna Smith, visibly emotional as she described her son Kenneth Smith.

An off-duty Cleveland police officer shot and killed Smith's only child last year in downtown Cleveland. Police said the 20-year-old refused to get out of a car and was reaching for a handgun when the officer pulled the trigger. That officer, who was reportedly drinking at a strip club that night, was never charged and no disciplinary action was taken.

"I'm glad that they're taking a look finally to hopefully get things resolved," said Smith.

The investigation provides her with a glimmer of hope amongst so much pain of losing her son.

"I really miss our relationship," she said.

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