'I didn’t suffocate the guy:' Milwaukee police officer charged in 25-year-old man's death

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – A 13-year veteran of the Milwaukee Police Department has been charged in the death of a 25-year-old man. The charges come more than three weeks after Officer Michael Mattioli was arrested. 

Joel Acevedo

Thirty-two-year-old Mattioli was off-duty when the fight happened near 45th and Cleveland on April 19. 

Twenty-five-year-old Joel Acevedo was left unconscious. He was transported to St. Luke’s Hospital and on April 25, died from his injuries.

Mattioli has been charged with first degree reckless homicide. 

According to a criminal complaint, authorities were called to Mattioli's home just after 7 a.m. on April 19. The complaint says a struggle could be heard on the 911 call. Mattioli identified himself as a police officer and said he needed help. The victim was reportedly heard on the call saying, "I swear I'll go home. I swear." 

When police arrived at the scene, the complaint says they found the off-duty officer straddling Acevedo, who was on his stomach. Authorities noted Acevedo was not moving. 

When an officer asked Mattioli if Acevedo was breathing his response was "I don't know." 

Mattioli told police he had a party the night before and said when he woke up, Acevedo was going through his pockets.

According to the criminal complaint, Acevedo went to leave but got into a fight with another man in the home.

Mattioli says he grabbed Acevedo around his neck because he didn’t want him to get away, but said he didn’t squeeze as hard as he could saying, “I didn’t suffocate the guy. I had my arms around his neck yes, and I held him there but I didn’t suffocate the guy, I didn’t press hard enough."

Mattioli went on to say, "I didn’t squeeze as hard as I could because I know, I’m not stupid. I know what it is you know … I know what’s deadly force and what’s not, but I held him there to make sure he didn’t get away … until the … you guys showed up … look, I wasn’t holding him to make his air cut off you know I’m not stupid."

An autopsy determined Acevedo choked to death. His family said in a statement, "it has been the hardest thing they’ve ever had to go through and that losing Joel has left a void that can never be filled.”

Milwaukee Police Department said Wednesday, May 13, Mattioli was placed on full suspension. He could face up to 60 years in prison.

MPD released the following statement after the charges were filed: 

On Wednesday, May 13, 2020, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office issued one count of First Degree Reckless Homicide against Michael Mattioli in connection to the death of Joel Acevedo.

Michael Mattioli is a 13 year veteran of the Milwaukee Police Department; however, he was off-duty when the incident took place and has been placed on full suspension.

This incident is being investigated by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office.

“This is a sad situation for everyone involved and I send my condolences to Mr. Acevedo’s family and friends,” said Chief Morales.

Read the full statement from the family of Joel Acevedo below: 

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