A Chicago police sergeant was charged with misconduct and aggravated battery on Thursday for kneeling on the back of a Puerto Rican teenager after accussing the boy of stealing his son’s bike in an incident captured on video.
Sgt. Michael Vitellaro, 49, turned himself in to police in connection with the July 1 incident outside a Starbucks in Park Ridge, according to Park Ridge police.
Vitellaro’s son’s bike had been stolen on the day in question, and the sergeant tracked it down to a Starbucks cafe, where he started watching it while waiting for the thief to come back.
The incident started when the teen, who was riding his own bike with one hand, started moving another bike that was in his way. According to Antonio Romanucci, a lawyer for the teen’s family, that’s when the officer challenged him.
In the video, the cop, who is dressed in shorts and a bright blue jacket, restrains Nieves by digging his knee into the child’s back.
‘Get off him!’ ‘Get off of him!’ On the video, Nieves’ pals can be heard screaming as they assemble around the officer.
The video shows Nieves’ friends becoming increasingly frustrated with the cop, who can be heard saying, ‘It’s my son’s bike! He stole it!.’
‘No he didn’t!’ one of the teenagers yelled back, as the officer continued to restrain the outstretched teen with his hands behind his back.
Nieves’ friends then attempt to free their friend from the officer’s grasp, attempting to create space between both the cop and the teenager.
As the boy’s friends try to defend him, a scuffle commences, with the cops ultimately releasing Nieves.
The family’s attorney stated, ‘The off-duty officer is white, and the boy was the only individual of color in a group of teenagers.’
The Nieves family has promised to sue over the incident, telling the Chicago Sun-Times that they ‘want to make sure this officer never has the ability to abuse his power again.’
Vitellaro was relieved of his police powers on Wednesday, according to a Chicago police spokesperson. He was arraigned and released on bail of $25,000 dollars. His next court appearance is scheduled for September 8.