Park Ridge, IL – A Chicago police sergeant has been relieved of duty after he was criminally charged in connection with his actions in Park Ridge that were caught in a viral video in July.
The incident occurred outside a Starbucks coffee shop in Park Ridge on July 1, WFLD reported.
Nicole Nieves said her 14-year-old son was with a group of other kids when he went to move a bicycle that was blocking the sidewalk.
She said the father of the bike’s owner thought Nieves’ son was stealing the bike and grabbed him.
The man identified himself as a Chicago police officer to the teens and took the boy whom he suspected of bike theft to the ground.
Officials have confirmed the man in the video was 49-year-old Chicago Police Sergeant Michael A. Vitellaro, WFLD reported.
Sgt. Vitellaro was off-duty when the incident occurred.
Cell phone video filmed by bystanders showed Sgt. Vitellaro holding the 14 year old on the pavement with a knee in his back.
The boy’s friends surrounded the pair and told the man on top of their friend to let go of him, multiple times.
The 14 year old’s mother expressed her fury in a Facebook post, according to WFLD.
“This adult did not use words—he used force; he used his hands,” Nieves wrote. “Grabbed our son’s wrists, body slammed him, then held him down with his knee to forcibly restrain him… Regardless of the circumstances, getting physical with a minor as an adult for any reason other than self defense is unacceptable.”
Chicago police launched an internal investigation after Nieves filed a complaint, WFLD reported.
On Aug. 17, the department announced that Sgt. Vitellaro’s police powers had been suspended.
The next day, Sgt. Vitellaro was charged with misconduct and aggravated battery in connection with the incident, according to WFLD.
The sergeant turned himself in to the Park Ridge police on Aug. 18 and was processed.
He was expected to appear before a judge later in the day.
Nieves said she believed Sgt. Vitellaro’s actions were racially-motivated, WFLD reported.
“We’ve talked to our three Puerto Rican boys about this moment for years… We can’t possibly put into words how we’re feeling—disgust, anger, frustration, outrage, fear, sadness…” the mother said.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Sgt. Vitellaro has had four use-of-force complaints since he joined the police force in 2000.