A jury acquitted a former Milwaukee police officer who was charged with reckless homicide in the death of a friend after a night of partying.
Michael Mattioli, who was off-duty, told jurors that he was trying to restrain Joel Acevedo during a struggle in April 2020, but he denied choking him.
“If I knew he wasn’t breathing, I would have gotten off him,” Mattioli testified.
Mattioli was found not guilty Friday.
The Milwaukee County medical examiner said Acevedo suffered severe brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen. Dr. Jeffrey Jentzen, a former medical examiner, said other health conditions also likely played a role.
Acevedo, 25, died days after the incident.
“I don’t know who the jury’s listening to. The facts were there,” Acevedo’s father, Jose Acevedo, told reporters. “They came to their decision, and I totally disagree with it. Joel was never the aggressor.”
There was no immediate comment from Mattioli or his lawyers. He quit his job as a police officer in 2020.
In his closing argument, attorney Michael Hart said Mattioli was lawfully defending himself in his own home.
“He was involved in a struggle of his own making,” Hart said of Acevedo.
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