21 year-old Thomas Yatsko, a resident of Cleveland, Ohio, was known in his local community as a young man distinguished for his eagerness to help the homeless, his neighbors and the elderly. But as of Saturday, January 13th, all that has come to an end due to an off-duty police officer – who was working security at a local bowling alley – and his bullet. Shockingly, Yatsko’s family members weren’t even informed by the police that their loved one was killed until nearly three days after the fact on January 16, when local reporters began making inquiries.
Thomas Yatsko, who’d only turned 21 two months ago, worked at a nearby Dunkin’ Donuts where he was incredibly popular with the customers, who’d often come in asking for him by name. “When he wasn’t working,” according to Cleveland.com, “he shoveled snow off the driveways and sidewalks for his neighbors in South Euclid.” He had a history of being the polar opposite of a troublemaker and was, according to those who knew him, a good kid in school. Yet police claim he got into a fight on the night of January 13th at the bowling alley. They claim he, along with whoever he got into a fight with, were kicked out of the alley. Rather unbelievably – and likely based solely upon the testimony of the off-duty officer – the police claim he returned to the bowling alley after he was kicked out to attack Sgt. Dean Grazziolli. That’s when Grazziolli allegedly pulled out his gun and shot the unarmed Yatsko twice, killing him.
An eye-witness account of the incident seemingly contradicts Grazziolli’s tale that Yatsko returned to the alley after being kicked out only to attack him. According to the witness, there was indeed an altercation between Yatsko and someone else, and both of them were escorted outside by Grazziolli. One of the young men, either Yatsko or the other, pleaded with the security guard to leave him alone as he was complying with what he was being told to do. Shortly afterward, the witness says Grazziolli got into a fight with one of the young men, presumably Thomas Yatsko, and shot him. Nurses who were at the bowling alley “tried to perform emergency treatment on Yatsko to get the bleeding to stop.” Yatsko “was awake and breathing at the time, but was bleeding heavily.”
Thomas Yatsko was rushed to nearby University Hospitals where he was pronounced dead. The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner ruled the death a homicide and noted that Yatsko had been “shot in the neck and extremity.” The Cuyahoga County Police Department will be conducting an investigation, which is all but certain to be a sham.