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Departments : Shots Fired

Shots Fired: Cleveland, Ohio 04/10/1985

Officer Joe Paskvan drew and fired at a young man holding what he thought was a shotgun, and then the real nightmare began.

June 24, 2010  |  by - Also by this author


The Supreme Court had it right: It's damn easy to dissect a split-second decision made by an officer with the advantage of 20/20 hindsight.

Yet how difficult it is while operating under that split-second constraint.

When you're one of two cops working an undercover stakeout, you're automatically more attuned to your environs. Not only are you surveying for your target's activities, but the actions of those about you.

Such was the case on April 10, 1985, when Officer Joe Paskvan and his partner sat in an unmarked Olds Cutlass outside a Cleveland, Ohio, bar waiting for a suspect to exit. Not that he harbored any illusion that the locals would take them for anything other than what they were: Cops. After all, how many gangsters tool around with three antennas sticking out of the trunks of their hoopties anyway?

That made it all the more surprising when Paskvan's partner elbowed him and pointed out a young male carrying what looked like a sawed-off shotgun. They radioed for uniformed officers to respond to the scene, then watched as the man got into a car, drove a short distance, made a U-turn, then pulled up behind their unmarked car.

8 Seconds

At that moment, the uniformed officers pulled around the corner and stopped abreast of the suspect car, placing them directly in the kill zone. Paskvan yelled, "That's him! That's the guy!" as he and his partner jumped out of their unmarked car in a bid to clarify for the officers just where they'd put themselves.

But before either could do anything to improve their positions, the suspect raised his weapon at one of the uniformed officers. The man's quick, determined pace told Paskvan that he didn't have much time to thwart the threat that was developing in front of him.

Was it tunnel vision, the complete focus on his intended victims that prevented the suspect from seeing Paskvan and his partner? Paskvan didn't know. He just accepted the fact that for once he had the drop on someone who thought he had the drop on someone else.

Firing from his Smith & Wesson four-inch Model 19 .357 Magnum, Paskvan pumped three quick rounds into the man's side. The suspect's gun fell to the ground.

Paskvan approached and kicked the gun away from the suspect's reach. As he did, a single BB fell from it.

I didn't kick it that hard, Paskvan thought, still believing that the weapon was a sawed-off shotgun and that he'd somehow kicked a shell open.

"Oh, God, don't shoot me!" the man yelled. "It's only a pellet gun!"

A mere eight seconds had passed between the time the uniformed unit pulled up and Paskvan's request for paramedics, time enough for the man to have sustained fatal injuries and Paskvan's life and career path to change substantially.

$21.8 Million

And so started an odyssey for Paskvan that would find him taking a circuitous trek through the judicial system - one that would not end for years to come.

Paskvan thought the deceased, Marcos Luciano, was Italian - as did Paskvan's paisano partner. But it turned out that Luciano was Puerto Rican and that one ethnic tweak put a spin on the shooting. Paskvan, a white officer, had shot a Puerto Rican man.

Tags: Shots Fired, Cops Getting Sued, Cleveland Division of Police, Undercover Investigations, Officer Exonerated


Comments (9)

Displaying 1 - 9 of 9

Rosabel Luciano @ 8/16/2012 7:36 AM

I do not appreciate the wordage used in this article. The wording is used in such a way to gain empathy for Paskvan. That man was wrong in every way. If those shootings happened in todays society, he would have been accountable long before his numbers reached nine; then maybe, my father would still be alive.

Mr. Common Sense @ 8/16/2012 8:23 PM

Your comment is out of line Rosabel. Anyone who points a gun at police, whether real, fake, pellet gun, water gun, etc. knows that the police will not take chances with their lives, therefore the police will use deadly force. Your father pointed a gun at police, he made a bad choice and he paid for it. Paskvan did what every cop in this country would have done. The shooting investigation and the courts agree with Paskvan's decision to shoot. I understand that you are upset over the loss of your dad, however, your father's own actions caused his death.

Rosabel @ 8/4/2013 11:11 PM

Dear Mr. Common Sense,
My comments and my oppinions are my own & are not out of line. You may think that I do not know what I am talking about, well, I happen to know to know a thing or two about this subject. I am an Army Veteran with 2 combat tours, both of which I was in the first units deployed after 9/11, & in the initial convoy into Iraq in 2003. I bet I have way more experience, intergrity, & humility than this Paskvan guy could ever pray to have. I know very well about R.O.E. & if a soldier doesn't have full identification, or shoots someone with a bb gun, they are held accountable. Nevermind the lawsuit, it is the principle that matters to my family. A freind of mine is a police officer in Denver, we have talked about this years ago, & especially after he became a police officer. I was told.thar it is not likely for a police officer to have shot and killed so many people, let alone killed them all.
So, Mr. Common Sense, what say you about all this?
By the way, I guess there just haplened to he a fad at the time of people pointing fake guns at cops? Especially someone who worked their tail off to care for his 2 young children and parents?

Marcos Luciano III @ 8/5/2013 12:32 PM

I'm guessing that Mr.CommonSense has nothing else to say

Carmen L. Rivera @ 3/18/2014 4:15 PM

I went to Jr. High school with Marcos. I don't believe, for a single moment that Marcos pointed anything at anyone. RIP, "Peanut".

Roberto @ 8/22/2014 7:27 PM

I read the autopsy report and saw the pictures of the body of Marcos Luciano. Luciano was shot repeatedly and there was a shot that not only entered the forearm but also entered the hip which marked the position of his arm when he was shot by Paskvan and which proves undisputedly that Marcos had his arm on his pocket like witnesses stated. Furthermore, he sustained another shot which razed the front of his scrotum and entered the thigh from right to left and from the front to the back which proves undisputedly that after he collapsed he was shot again by Paskvan while Marcos was on the floor.

So much for justice. We tried to do our best to get justice for Luciano but the attorney (now deceased) who took the case to court did not do enough to nail Pavskan, just enough to make us think that he was serious. Can't say anything else except that I questioned him as to why he did not brought forward the autopsy results. He told me that the judge would not allow it. I never believed him.

Roberto @ 8/22/2014 7:29 PM

Marcos did not point a gun at the police

Roberto @ 8/22/2014 7:32 PM

The autopsy results of Marcos Luciano shows that the same shot that entered his forearm also entered the hip. This proves that his hand was in his pocket when he was shot. The autopsy report and pictures also show that he was shot again while he was in the floor after collapsing.

Roberto @ 8/22/2014 7:36 PM

I apologize for the repetition but since I couldn't see my message I thought it was censored and tried to squeeze in something more acceptable.

Thank You.

Roberto

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