Reporting based on the investigative files and video collected by the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department into the police-involved shooting death of 21-year-old Thomas Yatsko outside of the Corner Alley in University Circle in January 2018, Cleveland.com has the fullest picture yet published on the events of the evening.
Witness accounts and evidence show how Yatsko, who was kicked out of the bowling alley after getting into a fight with a friend over a "bad joke," was the aggressor — repeatedly — in the confrontation. After being escorted outside and being told to leave, the report says, he stuck around and eventually began punching Cleveland police Sgt. Dean Graziolli in the face — again, repeatedly — after the officer told him to leave.
Graziolli, who was working secondary employment that night, was not indicted following the shooting death after the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office, which took over the case from Cuyahoga County as per Mike O'Malley's policy on officer-involved shootings, presented evidence to a grand jury, which declined to bring charges.
But Graziolli still faces an internal investigation by the Cleveland police department. These proceedings, as Cleveland.com notes, usually only begin after the adjudication of any criminal matters.
And one part of the report may put Graziolli into some disciplinary jeopardy, and might become key to the family's ongoing federal lawsuit against the department.
Two weeks prior to the incident, Chief Calvin Williams, in addition issuing an order for all cops to be trained in de-escalation procedures, issued an all-staff order mandating that all Cleveland cops working moonlighting jobs carry a stun gun and an additional secondary weapon, which would include pepper spray or a baton, according to the report's findings. These were set in motion and adopted as part of the city's consent decree with the DOJ.
It's unknown if Graziolli had completed the de-escalation training, but according to Cleveland.com's summary of the report, "Graziolli went to the bowling alley about 7 p.m. with his gun and handcuffs. He did not have a stun gun, pepper spray or a baton."
The sad What Ifs follow from there — maybe lethal force would have still been necessary, if not at least ruled justifiable by a grand jury, but maybe things would have gone different — but it appears clear that Graziolli, who remains on restricted duty, violated a department order that might have changed how the night went.