A longtime figure in Cleveland's underworld, Joseph Filkowski led the Polish bootlegging gang, the Flats Mob. In October 1930, he and two other gang members held a police officer captive during the gangs hold up of the Dixie Shoe Company, relieving him of both his gun and uniform.
Although successfully escaping, the incident resulted in gaining the attention of local law enforcement and, although escaping from a police trap on December 6, Filkowski associate Joseph Stazek was killed by Cleveland detectives the following day. Two days later, on December 9, a Patrolman Patrick McNeely accidentally shot Joseph Fortini, a district circulation manager of the newspaper The Plain Dealer, who McNeely had mistaken for Filkowski. The Fortini shooting would begin a lengthy, yet ultimately unresolved, inquiry into the use of police firearms.
The majority of the gang were eventually captured by authorities and sentenced to life imprisonment with the exception of Filkowski, who was sentenced to death. Filkowski's death mask is on display in the Cleveland Police History Museum.
- Morton, James. Gangland International: The Mafia and Other Mobs. Warner Books, 1998. ISBN 0-7515-2237-6. "Reprinted 2000, 2001. Non-Fiction. The moral right of the author has been asserted". Pages: 235-236, Chapter 10: Cleveland.