CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cleveland police Sgt. Dean Graziolli was an exceptional patrolman and exceeded the expectations of his superiors after being promoted, even amid several disciplinary proceedings, including being convicted of staying at home despite being on-duty, according to his personnel file.
Graziolli is currently on restricted duty after he shot and killed 21-year-old Thomas Yatsko last week. Police say Yatsko attacked the veteran officer outside the popular Corner Alley bar in University Circle, where Graziolli was working an off-duty security shift.
Graziolli was approved to do work off-duty at the bar since April, records say.
The Cuyahoga County Sheriff is investigating the shooting to determine whether it was justified.
In his 26 years as a Cleveland police officer, the Parma Heights Holy Name graduate was disciplined seven times and received two police department awards for exceptional work as a patrolman.
After his 2014 criminal conviction, he was demoted back to a patrol officer for a year and suspended for 30 days without pay.
It is the only suspension of his career. His six other cases ended in written or verbal warnings.
Two of those disciplinary cases included failing to properly investigate non-deadly use-of-force cases involving the officers under his command. In 2008, six of his cases took between six and 13 months to complete.
He was given a written warning in 2012 for failing to properly investigate a non-deadly use of force incident because he had four errors in his final report and was nine months late in completing it, according to the records.
Other discipline stemmed from a 2004 bar fight with a fellow off-duty police officer, working an off-duty security job without authorization, failing to show up for court for two misdemeanor cases, and failing to respond to a call from a citizen trying to make a complaint.
He also received two police department awards and praise from his superiors on his performance reviews.
In 1992, he was recognized as one of four officers who successfully and safely boxed in a car thief during a chase. Two years later, he successfully negotiated the release of two hostages who were held inside a home by an armed burglar. He also talked the burglar into surrendering peacefully, according to his personnel file.
The owner of an AMCO parking lot in downtown Cleveland also wrote then-Police Chief Martin Flask to thank Graziolli and his partner for arresting a man stealing money from the lot’s cash box.
Graziolli, whose annual salary is $67,000, was promoted to sergeant in 2002. His superiors wrote glowing performance reviews, calling him an exceptional leader.
The performance reviews include a ranking system on various aspects of policing. At the time, a 5 was the highest cumulative score. He ranked a 5.02 in a 2010 review.
In 2014, the year he was convicted of eight counts of misdemeanor falsification for lying about working, he received a 3.78, his lowest score but enough to still qualify him in the “exceptional” level.
Graziolli “responds regularly to dangerous assignments and is known for deploying safe and effective standards,” his supervisor wrote. The supervisor added that he is well-respected by peers, who regularly seek out his advice.
He was praised in his most recent performance review in 2016 for his leadership ability.