MILWAUKEE (Court TV/Scripps News Milwaukee) — After hours of deliberation, a jury acquitted a former Milwaukee police officer on homicide charges in the death of a man at his home.
Michael Mattioli was charged with first-degree reckless homicide in the death of Joel Acevedo, who died in the suspect’s home.
According to court documents obtained by Scripps News Milwaukee, Mattioli had hosted a party at his home, which Acevedo had attended. Mattioli woke up following the party and said he saw Acevedo going through his belongings. Believing he was being robbed, he called 911 and restrained Acevedo in a chokehold.
Acevedo was unable to breathe and died in a hospital six days later.
Mattioli’s defense pointed to the victim’s alleged history of drug use and medical conditions as the cause of his death and argued that their client had been acting in self-defense when he held Acevedo in a chokehold. A friend of Mattioli’s, who was also in the house, testified that Acevedo had attacked them.
Mattioli took the stand in his own defense, telling the jury, “I didn’t feel the need to hurt him. I just wanted to hold him down until the police arrived.”
In a statement following the verdict, the Acevedo family attorney, B’iVory LaMarr said, “While the verdict is disheartening, it does not diminish our determination; instead it reinforces our commitment to seeking justice. The fact that Milwaukee Police Department’s former officer Michael Mattioli was charged in a system where such accountability is rare marks a significant step forward. Our attention now turns to the impending civil lawsuit, where we contend that the admissions of an intoxicated officer, while not enough for a criminal conviction, unequivocally points to a violation of Joel’s constitutional rights. Our fight goes far beyond Joel; it is a quest to uphold the rights and dignity of all individuals.”
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