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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

At first, the department claimed that Paskvan's permanent assignment to the gym was required to maintain longer operating hours. When it was pointed out that the same could be accomplished by assigning any individual to the detail, the department allowed Paskvan to return to his original duty on the Auto Theft Detail, 19 long months after the Luciano shooting.

Paskvan might have regained his position, but Rudolph issued an order that Paskvan was not to conduct any business outside of the headquarters building.

Rudolph also continued to decline each of Paskvan's requests to seek outside employment. More arbitration ensued until November 1988 when Paskvan finally prevailed. The arbitrator found that the department's fear of another shooting and adverse reactions from citizen groups was "arbitrary, discriminatory, and unreasonable."

This series of battles marked a major victory for Paskvan, but his largest campaign was yet to be waged.

Denied Promotion

Paskvan had the tenure, the experience, the smarts - both streetwise and academically - to do well on his promotional exam. He'd created the requisite work foundation with which he'd feel comfortable mentoring and evaluating others while working in a supervisory capacity.

In 1987, Paskvan took the promotional exam for promotion to sergeant and placed third out of more than 100 officers. Mitchell Brown, director of Public Safety, held all the cards when it came to promoting police officers on the department. Brown followed the "Rule of 3" when issuing promotions, meaning that any of the top three candidates could be chosen to fill a vacant position.

Paskvan was passed over. Repeatedly.

The top 18 candidates were promoted to sergeant in September 1988, except for Paskvan. Over time, 49 officers would be promoted from the candidate list-those that had ranked from 1 to 50-except for Paskvan.

Paskvan realized that if he was going to advance, he would have to sue his employer.

In the 1989 trial, Brown testified that controversy over the previous shootings was an important factor in denying promotion to Paskvan. Chief Rudolph recommended against Paskvan's promotion due to similar apprehensions over public outcries from community organizations. He cited Paskvan's "poor judgment" in the two shootings he had investigated.

The first trial resulted in a hung jury. The judge tried to negotiate a settlement between the parties, but the department wouldn't accept it. By March 1994, the series of lawsuits over Paskvan's denied promotion resulted in a jury verdict in his favor. The city immediately appealed the decision.

The appellate court upheld the original ruling, stating that "Rudolph and Brown, individually and as the city's policymakers in their official capacities, acted with discriminatory purpose in choosing not to promote Paskvan... because he is white, Paskvan was offered as the sacrificial lamb to appease the protesting minority organizations."

Eight years after his peers on the candidate list were promoted, Paskvan finally earned his promotion to sergeant and was awarded reparations with interest for the years of lost wages. He repaid the police union for the support they provided to him throughout the arbitrations and trials.

Today, Paskvan assists others who occasionally find themselves fighting the brave fight against the very system they are sworn to protect. Retired from the Cleveland PD, Paskvan is a member of the POLICE-TREXPO Advisory Board.

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Comments (11)

Displaying 1 - 11 of 11

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.


vanessa mcgee colon @ 12/10/2014 6:12 PM

I was good friends of carline bishop and marcus Luciano in jr high and if you knew marcus you know he would never point a gun at anyone in threat!!!

Eddie Muldonn @ 12/23/2014 2:05 PM

To the naive fools who think old Marcos was a nice guy. You know why he was there with his gun that night. He was defending the honor of his new hillbilly girlfriend who had been dissed earlier in the day. he was cheating on his wife. You might want to check your birthdays against the date of marriage, bet there wan't nine months in between.

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