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CPD sergeant charged with pinning 14-year-old boy to ground in Park Ridge

Chicago sergeant charged with pinning 14-year-old boy to ground in Park Ridge
Chicago sergeant charged with pinning 14-year-old boy to ground in Park Ridge 01:45

CHICAGO (CBS) – A Chicago police sergeant who was seen on video kneeling on a 14-year-old teen near a Starbucks in Park Ridge last month has been charged and stripped of his police powers.

Michael Vitellaro, 49, has been charged with official misconduct and aggravated battery.

Vitellaro was seen on video pinning the teen down with his knee after accusing him of stealing his son's bicycle last month. According to prosecutors, the bicycle was reportedly stolen at the Park Ridge library and left near the Starbucks. Vitellaro drove there with his son and located the bike. He then waited in the parking lot to see wheter he could find out who took it.

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Michael Vitallaro

The teenager was sitting on his bicycle and talking with friends nearby. When he went to move the stolen bike, Vitellaro approached the teen and pinned him to the ground, prosecutors said. Vitellaro called 911 and asked for police to come to the location. When a woman walking nearby asked why Vitellaro was kneeling on the boy, he let the teen go.  The teen was crying and told Vitellaro to leave him alone, prosecutors said. 

When Skokie police arrived, Vitellaro accused the boy of stealing the bike. 

Video surveillance showed that the bike was already there before the victim arrived with his friends, prosecutors said. In addition to cell phone video that was made public last month, there is additional video that shows Vitellaro pushing the victim to the ground, prosecutors said. 

The following day, Vitellaro filed a report, calling the teen an "offender" who did not follow verbal commands and was pulling away from him, prosecutors said. 

Vitellaro's defense attorney said the officer was doing what he was trained to do and had a reasonable belief that the teen stole his son's bike. 

The boy's mother, Nicole Nieves, said last month that she worried people may pass judgment and say her son was doing something wrong. However, in the cell phone video, she said she saw her son was scared, but calm, as a man pressed down on him.

Other teens are seen coming to their friend's aid, eventually pulling him away from the man. The video was provided by the law firm, Romanucci and Bladin, which is representing the family.

Nicole and Angel Nieves said their son is an honor student, who is active in youth ministry and three sports.

Vitellaro turned himself into the Park Ridge Police Department Thursday. His bond was set at $25,000 at his first court appearance Thursday afternoon in Skokie.

He was relieved of his police powers on Wednesday, according to CPD, which is conducting an internal investigation.

In a statement, Nicole and Angel Nieves said: "We are extremely relieved and pleased to see charges for what happened to our son.

"We are still trying to assess the full impact of this traumatic incident on our son, who is only 14 and still processing all that happened to him. There is absolutely no room in our community for this type of unnecessary aggression against our children and we are grateful for today's progress."

If convicted, Vitellaro could be sentenced to up the five years in prison. 

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