Police sergeant facing felony charges over off-duty altercation with Park Ridge teen

  • Michael Vitellaro

    Michael Vitellaro

  • Park Ridge police have arrested a Chicago police sergeant in connection with this July 1 off-duty altercation with a 14-year-old boy outside a Starbucks. The sergeant is charged with official misconduct and aggravated battery.

    Park Ridge police have arrested a Chicago police sergeant in connection with this July 1 off-duty altercation with a 14-year-old boy outside a Starbucks. The sergeant is charged with official misconduct and aggravated battery. Courtesy of Nieves family

  • Parents Nicole and Angel Nieves with their three sons, the oldest of whom, holding the football trophy, they believe was a victim of racial profiling during a July 1 confrontation with an off-duty Chicago police sergeant.

    Parents Nicole and Angel Nieves with their three sons, the oldest of whom, holding the football trophy, they believe was a victim of racial profiling during a July 1 confrontation with an off-duty Chicago police sergeant. Courtesy of Nieves family

 
 
Updated 8/18/2022 3:32 PM

A Chicago police sergeant is facing felony official misconduct and aggravated battery charges stemming from an off-duty altercation with a teenager last month outside a Starbucks in Park Ridge.

Michael Vitellaro, 49, turned himself in Thursday morning at the Park Ridge Police Department, where he was processed and taken to the Cook County courthouse in Skokie to await a bond hearing, police said.

 

The arrest follows a weekslong investigation into the July 1 confrontation that was captured on cellphone video and soon went viral, even appearing on the celebrity gossip website TMZ.

The video of the encounter outside the Starbucks at 100 S. Northwest Highway begins with a man now identified as Vitellaro kneeling on the back of a 14-year-old Park Ridge boy while speaking on a cellphone. Other boys argue with the man and quickly pull their friend off the ground, the video shows.

The boy's parents, Angel and Nicole Nieves, said the altercation was sparked by the police officer's mistaken belief their son was trying to steal a bicycle. They alleged racial profiling played a role in the confrontation. The officer is white, and their son is of Puerto Rican descent.

In a statement released by their attorneys Thursday, the parents said they are "pleased and relieved" by the charges.

"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," the statement reads. "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."

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Attorney Antonio M. Romanucci said the family is preparing civil litigation and hopes for further action against Vitellaro "to make sure this officer no longer has the ability to abuse his power again."

"There can be no impunity for officers who break the law, and they must be held to the same standards as regular citizens," Romanucci said.

The Chicago Civilian Office of Police Accountability said Thursday it continues to investigate the officer's actions.

Park Ridge Police Chief Frank Kaminski issued a statement thanking his officers and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office for their work on the case. "I am extremely proud of my staff and their professionalism in conducting a thorough and complete investigation which they took seriously from day one," he said. "The Park Ridge Police Department have and will continue to honor their oath of office, continuing to serve our community with professionalism, dedication, pride and respect."

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