Chicago police lieutenant testifies in trial of sergeant accused of pinning teen in Park Ridge

Teen who took viral video also takes stand

Tuesday, June 6, 2023
CPD lieutenant testifies in trial of sergeant accused of pinning teen
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Chicago Police Sergeant Michael Vitellaro returned to court Tuesday in his trial after a teen was pinned to the ground in Park Ridge last summer.

SKOKIE, Ill. (WLS) -- Chicago Police Sergeant Michael Vitellaro left the courthouse after the second day of his trial.

The sergeant, who has been stripped of police powers, has been charged for an incident last summer in Park Ridge. Video from July 1 shows Vitellaro on top of a then-14-year-old boy. Vitellaro told Park Ridge police that the boy stole a bike.

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

On Tuesday, the teenager who took the video, which went viral, testified. Finn Haugh told the judge he didn't know the man on his friend, Josh Nieves, and the man did not identify himself as an officer.

"I was just shocked, and if something bad happened, I want it videoed," Haugh said.

On Monday, Nieves testified, telling the Judge about the "shocking" and "fearful" moments when Vitellaro pinned him on 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."

The Nieves family's attorney, Javier Rodriguez, spoke with ABC7 on Monday.

"Overall, it was a tough moment for the family to sit there, specifically Angel and Josh, to be there and relive what happened on July 1," Rodriguez said. "I thought Josh composed himself very well. He exhibited a maturity of somebody well above his age."

Prosecutors also called an officer with the Chicago Police Department, who testified on Tuesday about when force should be used by an officer. In this case, the police academy trainer told the judge that the "takedown" technique was not necessary. That expert said Vitellaro filled out two reports about the incident with CPD, but some of the things Vitellaro wrote in the reports are not seen on videos.

Under cross examination, the police trainer acknowledged that sergeants and other supervisors don't get as much updated training on use of force, and if an officer has a son who is the victim of crime, it's reasonable the officer might take more action.

In a video show by prosecutors on Tuesday, Vitellaro can be heard telling Park Ridge officers he saw the teen with "brown afro hair" get on the his son's bike and attempt to pedal away.

Vitellaro told the Park Ridge officers the bike that belonged to his son. He said it had been stolen from the library, and that they spotted it and watched to see who touched it.

a friend of Nieves testified that another teen had been riding the bike in question, and that Josh only touched it.

The trial could conclude as early as Wednesday.