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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 shooting of Luciano was Paskvan's ninth shooting in the line of duty. The department found each shooting to be justified and no criminal charges were ever filed against him. By the luck of the draw, all of the suspects had been minority members. Paskvan hadn't picked them that way. It was just the way the racial lottery played out.

But others saw it differently. None more so than Luciano's family, who sued Paskvan for $21.8 million, claiming that Paskvan had violated Luciano's civil rights by shooting and killing him.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

To bolster their case, the plaintiffs relied on testimony of a few locals in the area, including one who claimed that she had been walking around the corner just before the shooting and arrived in time to see Paskvan cold-bloodedly shoot Luciano as he raised his hands in surrender. She made a point of mentioning that she remembered the time of the incident as she'd just heard the church bells toll before rounding the corner of the intersection.

This side detail was enough to impeach the witness's credibility: The church bells had gone off at noon and 6 p.m. for years. The shooting took place shortly after 7:30.

The coroner's office took it a step further, noting that the trajectory of the bullets fired into the decedent's body revealed an inconsistency with the man being in a position of volitional surrender. Moreover, the decedent's arms and upper torso's posture at the time of being shot were consistent with his pointing the weapon at the uniformed officers.

Paskvan won the lawsuit. But it was merely another battle in a long war that would next time find Paskvan the plaintiff and his department the defendant.

Languishing in the Gym

Immediately following the Luciano shooting, Paskvan was assigned to the department gymnasium for 90 days to "relieve stress." Ninety days passed and Paskvan remained in the gym, sitting, reading, and waiting. He attributes the numerous delays in his return to work to demonstrations by minority groups that specifically targeted him, biased media that pushed their own racial agendas, and the public officials who ignored the facts of the case and lobbied against him.

In April 1986, Howard Rudolph became chief of police for the department. Rudolph had previously investigated two of Paskvan's shootings and found that while Paskvan had not violated any department regulations, he had in Rudolph's opinion used poor judgment in both incidents. As a result, Rudolph ordered Paskvan to remain on the gym assignment and also declined his request to seek secondary employment outside of the department. Thus began a months-long cycle of arbitrations to regain his status.

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


Comments (5)

Displaying 1 - 5 of 5

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".

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