State Watch

Chicago police sergeant facing felony charges after kneeling on teenager’s back

(File: Getty)

A Chicago police officer has been charged with official misconduct and aggravated battery after he pinned down a 14-year-old boy while off duty last month. 

Video showed Sergeant Michael Vitellaro kneeling on the boy’s back in Park Ridge, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, on July 1. A lawyer for the boy’s family alleged in a release after the incident that the 14-year-old was moving a bike so he could pass it with his own bike. 

Vitellaro accused the boy of attempting to steal his son’s bike and pinned him to the ground on his stomach, the release states. 

The Park Ridge Police Department said in a statement on Thursday that the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office approved charges against Vitellaro after an investigation by department detectives. Vitellaro turned himself in to police custody. 

Chief Frank Kaminski said he is proud of his staff for conducting a “complete and thorough” investigation that was taken seriously and is grateful to the attorney’s office for bringing a resolution to the investigation. 

“The Park Ridge Police Department has and will continue to honor their oath of office, continuing to serve our community with professionalism, dedication, pride, and respect,” he said. 

Video shows others present at the scene helping the boy return to his feet and telling Vitellaro to take his hands off him. 

The boy’s parents, Angel and Nicole Nieves, said in a release that they are relieved to see charges filed against Vitellaro and want to thank the police and attorney’s office for this “important step for justice” for their son. 

“We are still trying to assess the full impact of this traumatic incident on our son, who is only 14 and still processing all that happened to him,” they said. “There is absolutely no room in our community for this type of unnecessary aggression against our children and we are grateful for today’s progress.” 

Antonio Romanucci, one of the family’s lawyers, said the charges are an “accurate reflection” of what was seen in the video, an abuse of power with no cause. He said the legal team is preparing to file a civil complaint and wants to make sure the officer cannot abuse his power again. 

“The felony charges show the gravity of this type of aggression and that the enforcement of laws in our communities must start with law enforcement officers themselves,” he said. “There can be no impunity for officers who break the law, and they must be held to the same standards as regular citizens.” 

Vitellaro’s attorney did not immediately return a request from The Hill for comment.

Tags aggravated battery Chicago police excessive force Park Ridge police misconduct
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