Records request reveals histories of two Cleveland police officers involved in deadly Parma shooting

CLEVELAND - Seven months after making the request, NewsChannel5 has obtained the internal affairs, personnel files and other city records of two Cleveland police officers involved a deadly shooting in Parma.

Parma police said officers Matthew Craska and David Mindek went to Daniel Ficker's home Wareham Drive last July to question him about an alleged burglary at Mindek's house.

Craska shot and killed Ficker after the two got into a fight, according to Pat D'Angelo, the attorney the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Union.

Officer Matthew Craska's records

According to city records, Craska has several minor violations.

-In 2011, police Chief Michael McGrath sent him a letter about his sick day use. Records showed Craska took six sick days before or after vacation or furlough days.

-In 2005, Craska received a written warning after he was dismissed from Glock training for arriving late three times.

-In 2001, he received a letter reprimanding him for failing to wear his police cap while serving a search warrant.

-Records also showed Craska has been involved in two other police shootings during his career. In both cases, prosecutors ruled the officers' actions "justified."

Craska has also received a Distinguished Service Medal, a Medal of Heroism and a Medal of Honor since applying to join the force in 1998. The Medal of Honor is the highest honor given to Cleveland police officers.

The medal was awarded to Craska for acting "properly and professionally" during a fight with a suspect who Craska said tried to reach for his gun.

Officer David Mindek's records

Records showed Mindek has one written warning since applying to join the force in 1997. It stated Mindek failed to follow the proper procedures when he arrested a domestic violence suspect in 2003.

Records revealed Mindek's mistake caused the suspect to spend six days in jail without being charged. They also showed Mindek has received four commendations from the department, including a Chief's Commendation Award for an incident on Aug. 15, 2000.

The award said Mindek displayed "professionalism" while dealing with a suspect who had set fire to a home. The suspect was throwing knives at police while holding an infant hostage.

Mindek also received a Special Commendation Award for a Dec. 26, 2001 incident. Records showed Mindek searched through the snow to find the wedding ring of a kidnapping victim after he helped rescue her.

Mindek has also received superior ratings on some of his yearly performance reviews.

Reaction to officers' records

"Both of them have a history of not following rules within the department," said Terry Gilbert, a Cleveland attorney who plans to file a civil suit for Ficker's family. "I've seen officers who've been on the force for 20 or 30 years who don't have any write-ups. I've seen worse. How this fits into our case is anyone's guess, but it is of concern when cops don't follow the rules."

"I think that's a ridiculous argument to make," said D'Angelo. "It's my understanding that their prior disciplinary history is basically minor in nature. I'm sure if you asked Officer Craska, ‘Don't you wish you didn't go to Parma?' He would say, 'Absolutely.'"

The Cuyahoga County prosecutor is expected to present the findings of their investigation into Ficker's shooting to a grand jury before the end of February.

Ficker's family has complained about the lengthy investigation into his death. Recently, family members put up a billboard on Fulton Road near Bush Avenue to ask for justice.

Ficker's father, Dennis, has also filed a complaint with the FBI about Craska and Mindek, who both are still on duty. However, Craska is on light duty, which limits his interactions with the public.

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