Chicago cop charged, allegedly pinned boy while off-duty
PARK RIDGE, Ill. (AP) — A Chicago police sergeant has been charged in an off-duty incident in which he allegedly pinned down a 14-year-old suburban Chicago boy and pressed a knee to his back after suspecting him of stealing his son’s bicycle.
Sgt. Michael Vitellaro faces charges of official misconduct and aggravated battery in connection with the July incident in Park Ridge, police in the Chicago suburb said Thursday.
Vitellaro, 49, surrendered Thursday to Park Ridge police and was taken to the Cook County courthouse in Skokie to await a bond hearing, The (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald reported.
A Chicago police spokesperson said Vitellaro was relieved of his police powers on Wednesday.
Park Ridge police did not immediately release Vitellaro’s hometown and it was also unclear if he has an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
The charges stem from a July 1 incident where the boy was out with friends in Park Ridge. As the youth was holding his bike, he began moving another bike that was blocking his path when the officer confronted him, Antonio Romanucci, an attorney for the teen’s family, said last month.
Video provided by Romanucci and the boy’s family allegedly shows the off-duty sergeant grab the boy, pin his arms behind his back on the sidewalk and put his knee on the youth’s back.
“He’s taking my son’s bike,” the man is heard saying in the video.
The friends yell back, “No he’s not,” as they help pull the youth from the ground.
Vitellaro placed the boy, who is of Puerto Rican descent, in “an arm bar and forcibly pushed him towards the ground into a prone position” before kneeling on his back, according to a charging document, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Romanucci told the newspaper in July that the incident “is a clear-cut case of racial profiling.”
“The off-duty officer is white and the boy was the only person of color in a group of teenagers,” the attorney said.
The Chicago Civilian Office of Police Accountability said last month that it was investigating the officer’s actions.