Park Ridge teen allegedly pinned to ground by off-duty Chicago police sergeant testifies in court

'I thought I was going to lose my life': Josh Nieves

Monday, June 5, 2023
Teen allegedly pinned to ground by off-duty CPD sergeant testifies
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Chicago Police Sergeant Michael Vitellaro went on trial Monday after an incident in Park Ridge in which a teen was pinned to the ground.

SKOKIE, Ill. (WLS) -- A Chicago police sergeant accused of pinning a teenager to the ground with his knee went on trial Monday.

The officer is charged with misconduct and aggravated battery and has been stripped of his police powers. Cell phone video shows Chicago Police Sergeant Michael Vitellaro kneeling on the back of a 14-year-old boy last summer in Park Ridge.

The teen, Josh Nieves, testified in court that he rode his bike with friends to the Starbucks. He told the judge that he moved a bike that was in the way, when he was suddenly pushed to the ground.

"He grabbed me, brought me around the pillar and pushed me to the ground forcefully," Nieves said. "I was shocked. I thought I was going to lose my life. I didn't know what happened."

Under cross examination, the attorney for Vitellaro questioned the teen about inconsistencies in his statements.

Off-duty Chicago police sergeant pleads not guilty after Park Ridge teen pinned to ground

In police body cam video shown in court, Vitellaro, 49, told a Park Ridge officer the teen stole a bike. Also in the video, Nieves is crying, saying, "he came out of nowhere, and grabbed me and put his knee in my neck."

Nieves' said he was just trying to move the bike out of the sidewalk, and had nothing to do with the theft. Family members said they think the attack was racially motivated, and filed a lawsuit against the officer.

Prosecutors said Vitellaro was off-duty at the time, and acted rogue and out of rage when he allegedly attacked the young boy. Nieves testified THAT he was 5-foot-3 and 120 pounds at the time, and the off duty officer was "a lot larger."

Vitellaro turned himself into police and was officially charged. After an internal investigation by authorities and COPA, he was relieved of his police powers after prosecutors said he falsely accused the boy and pinned him to the ground.

Video showed Michael Vitellaro, 49, pinning a 14-year-old boy to the ground after the off-duty sergeant found the boy touching his son's stolen bike.

In court on Monday, officers showed up to support Vitellaro and community members were present to support the Nieves family.

The case is scheduled to be back in court with more witness testimony again Tuesday.