Michael Mattioli, 32, is charged with first-degree reckless murder in the death of Joel Acevedo the morning after a party at Mattioli’s house, according to the criminal complaint.
Mattioli’s bail continued at $ 50,000 on Wednesday at the hearing, and “he remains out of custody until trial,” Mattioli attorney Michael F. Hart said in a statement to CNN, adding that he is confident his client will be vindicated.
Civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump, who represents the George Floyd family, is now representing the Acevedo family, “because the police continue to literally strangle the lives of blacks and browns,” Crump said in a statement Tuesday.
Mattioli got into an altercation with Acevedo and suffocated him, according to the criminal complaint filed in May.
Acevedo died in the hospital several days later.
Mattioli told police, according to the criminal complaint, that he woke up the morning after the party, which Acevedo had attended, to find Acevedo checking the pockets of the pants Mattioli was wearing.
Mattioli told police that he confronted Acevedo and told him to leave, and then Acevedo hit another person in the home, according to the complaint. It was then that Mattioli subdued Acevedo on the ground with his arm around Acevedo’s neck, the complaint says, and called 911.
When the officers arrived, Acevedo was not moving, the complaint says. Mattioli insisted that he had not drowned Acevedo. “I had it around his neck, but I didn’t squeeze as much as I could because I know, I’m not stupid … I know what deadly strength is and what I don’t, but I held it there to make sure he didn’t run away,” He is quoted in the complaint as saying to an officer who responded. “I wasn’t holding it to cut off the air, you know I’m not stupid.”
Hart said “there is no equivalence measure between the charges against Mattioli and the mindless murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis or the larger and more real systemic problems underlying the nationwide protests that have led to Floyd’s death.”
“This is not categorically the case of a white cop who abuses his position of power against a person of color,” Hart said. “Mr. Mattioli and Mr. Acevedo were friends, and Mr. Acevedo was an invited guest at Mr. Mattioli’s house until he was caught trying to rob and physically assault another.”
He also questioned whether Mattioli would have been charged if he were not a police officer.
Acevedo’s family rejects Mattioli’s claims
Acevedo’s parents rejected Mattioli’s narrative, saying their son was only trying to go home when he was subdued.
“He wanted to go home,” Acevedo’s mother, Maribel, said outside of court Wednesday. “And he (Mattioli) refused to let him go home. He thought he had all the authority to take my son’s life,” he said.
Crump and Acevedo’s family allege that Mattioli strangled Acevedo for more than 10 minutes before releasing him when police arrived at the scene. According to the complaint, 10 minutes passed between the 911 call and the officers who arrived at Mattioli’s home.
Crump demands that the recordings of the 911 call and the body cameras of the responding officers be released: “So people can see for themselves how they literally strangled the life of a human being,” he said Wednesday.
Mattioli, a member of the Milwaukee Police Department, is on paid leave, according to department spokeswoman Sheronda Grant.
The Milwaukee Police and Fire Commission is taking over the investigation, Grant said.