CLEVELAND URBAN NEWS.COM, CLEVELAND, Ohio - The City of Cleveland has settled an excessive force and wrongful death federal lawsuit filed by the loved ones of Daniel Ficker, whom Cleveland police killed at his home in Parma, Ohio in 2011, for $2.25 million.
Parma is a Cleveland suburb that is 12 percent Black and has a history of police mishaps against the Black community, though Ficker was White.
Ficker's mother, Bernadette Rolen, and girlfriend, Tiffany Urbach, also the mother of his two children, recently notified a federal judge that they were amenable to negotiating a settlement.
The Ficker family attorney relative to the litigation is Terry Gilbert, a prominent Cleveland attorney with a history of settling wrongful death and excessive force lawsuits involving Cleveland police.
Mediation began Jan. 5 in front of presiding U.S. District Judge Dan Polster as Polster has settled other Cleveland police killing lawsuits, including that of Malissa Williams and Tim Russell, both Black and both gunned down in 2012 by 13 non-Black Cleveland cops slinging 137 bullets.
The families of Russell and Williams split a $3 million settlement.
The Ficker settlement, which requires probate court approval, also comes on the heels of the settlement by the city last year for $6 million to the estate of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was killed by Cleveland cops in 2014.
Urbach and Ficker's mother, Bernadette, and father, Dennis Ficker, who are divorced and Bernadette remarried, have rallied with activists relative to erroneous Cleveland police murders, including on Daniel Ficker's behalf.
And activists pushed for a fair settlement in the case.
"This case should be settled fairly if that is what the family wants because of obvious alleged wrongdoing and an injustice that needs to be rectified," said activist Kathy Wray Coleman last month for a story on the issue.
Coleman leads the Imperial Women Coalition.
Coleman said then that "Cleveland police crossed jurisdictional lines from Cleveland to Parma and killed a 27-year-old young man in his prime with two children and a fiance."
Art McKoy, founder of Black on Black Crime Inc. and a longtime community activist, also agreed that justice was due to the Ficker family.
"We want what the Ficker family wants," said McKoy, late last month and also for a story on the matter. "They are a great family that has been fighting for justice for a long time."
Coleman said that Ficker is the lone White victim of Cleveland police brutality and an excessive force killing that activists have fought for in the last six years and that his case is as meaningful as the other police killing victims, including the Black victims of Timothy Russell, Malissa Williams, Tamir Rice, Tanisha Anderson and Brandon Jones.
Coleman said that activists are pushing a non-violent and peaceful movement for redress for unorthodox Cleveland police killings, and police brutality in general in Cuyahoga County, which includes the largely Black city of Cleveland.
Ficker, then 27, was shot and killed by Cleveland police officer Matt Craska during a July 4, 2011 confrontation at his home in Parma.
He had reportedly gone to a party at officer David Mindek's house the day before the shooting and was accused by David Mindek's wife of allegedly stealing her jewelry.
Attorney Gilbert, also a criminal defense attorney, told activists and Cleveland Urban News.Com, Ohio's most read digital Black newspaper with no affiliation to Cleveland.com, that "no stolen jewelry or any jewelry was found."
According to a Cleveland.com story, Kimberly Mindek, who is also Urbach's (Ficker's girlfriend) cousin, called her husband about the missing jewelry. David Mindek, who was off duty, and Craska, who was on, went to Ficker's home to allegedly talk to him.
They had no warrant and did not even notify Parma police that they were coming into their jurisdiction, public records reveal.
A struggle ensued, the lawsuit says, and Craska tried to arrest Ficker, claiming he had allegedly assaulted him during the altercation.
The struggle ended with Craska shooting Ficker in the chest and Gilbert says in the lawsuit that Ficker was innocent, and a victim of police abuse and malfeasance.
A grand jury cleared Craska of criminal liability, which is routine relative to Cleveland police killings, and regardless often of wrongdoing by police, data show.
Officer Mindek was acquitted of a dereliction of duty charge where prosecutors had said that he refused to help Craska make an arrest.
Both police officers are White and have since left the force, though neither of them were disciplined by the city, Gilbert confirmed.
The lawsuit had been delayed due partly to an unsuccessful appeal by the city of Cleveland to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals as to a district court ruling that Craska and Mindek and the city could possibly be held liable for Ficker's death.