Milwaukee, WI – A Milwaukee police officer has been charged with reckless homicide after the coroner ruled that a man he subdued during a party at his home died from asphyxia.
The fight occurred off-duty just before 7:40 a.m. on April 19 during a gathering at Milwaukee Police Officer Michael Mattioli’s house in the 4500-block of West Cleveland Avenue, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Officer Mattioli, a 13-year veteran of the Milwaukee Police Department, told investigators that he’d had a group of friends over to drink at a bonfire in his yard, WITI reported.
The officer told detectives that he had gone to bed and woken up to find his friend, 25-year-old Joel Acevedo, “literally going through the pockets of the pants he was wearing.”
Officer Mattioli said that Acevedo claimed he wasn’t stealing, but said he told him to get out of his house, WITI reported.
He said Acevedo went downstairs and became involved in an altercation with another person who had been sleeping downstairs.
“Suddenly, Joel punched [the man],” Officer Mattioli told investigators, WITI reported.
“Joel fell to the ground, and he [Officer Mattioli] got on top of him and called 911,” according to the police report.
“I had my arms around him, yes, and I held him there, but I didn’t suffocate the guy,” the officer told investigators. “I didn’t press hard enough.” He added that “if he wanted to choke the guy, he would have, but he didn’t.”
Officer Mattioli sat atop Acevedo to hold him down until police arrived, WITI reported.
Police said Acevedo was unresponsive when police arrived at the residence, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Paramedics were able to bring him back using CPR, WISN reported.
Acevedo was transported to the hospital in critical condition and put on a ventilator upon arrival, according to WITI.
Officer Mattioli was arrested at the scene and booked into the Milwaukee County Jail, WISN reported.
He was initially charged with first-degree reckless injury and strangulation and suffocation.
The 32-year-old officer was released after he posted $50,000 bail on April 23, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Officer Mattioli was suspended by the police department after the incident, WISN reported.
But then on April 25, Acevedo succumbed to his injuries and died at the hospital.
The autopsy report labeled his death a homicide as a result of anoxic encephalopathy due to traumatic asphyxia, according to WITI.
On Wednesday, Officer Mattioli was charged with one count of first-degree reckless homicide, WISN reported.
His facing up to 60 years in prison if convicted on that charge.
Michael F. Hart, Officer Mattioli’s attorney, told WISN that the officer is innocent.
“We are unable to discuss the circumstances surrounding the events inside Officer Mattioli’s home at this time,” Hart said. “When that time comes, we are confident that it will be clear that Mr. Acevedo’s death, while tragic, was not the result of any criminal actions by Officer Mattioli.”
Milwaukee Alderwomen Milele A. Coggs and Nikiya Dodd have called for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
“We want to help answer questions that many people have about the incident, about the alleged party that was being unlawfully held, it appears, during the coronavirus pandemic with a stay home order in place, and what can be expected to happen to the officer in the future,” Coggs said in a written statement.