Nieves family files civil lawsuit against City of Chicago and Chicago Police Sergeant Michael Vitellaro
Complaint alleges false imprisonment, unwarranted assault, battery and infliction of emotional distress, among other causes of action, for “ambush” takedown of unarmed fourteen-year-old minor in Park Ridge
CHICAGO (June 27, 2022) – Romanucci & Blandin, LLC announces the filing of a civil lawsuit against the City of Chicago and Chicago Police Sergeant Michael A. Vitellaro for the wholly excessive and unjustified “ambush” use of force used in the July 1, 2022 takedown of the Nieves family’s (then) fourteen-year-old son without reasonable cause, ostensibly because Vitellaro had a hunch - yet had no proof - that the boy had stolen the bicycle of Vitellaro’s son. The complaint details that Vitellaro, an off-duty police sergeant employed by the City of Chicago, unjustifiably and without cause pinned the Nieves family’s minor son to the ground, under the guise of a false accusation of theft, and, in the process committed false imprisonment, unwarranted assault, battery, and infliction of emotional distress, among other causes of action.
The lawsuit, filed on June 27, 2023, in the Circuit Court of Cook County by the (now) fifteen-year-old minor’s father, Angel Nieves, on the boy’s behalf, details the alleged negligent and intentional actions of the defendants: Chicago Police Sergeant Michael A. Vitellaro and the City of Chicago, as Vitellaro’s employer and supervisor.
The complaint includes seven counts against Vitellaro – specifically, counts for false imprisonment, negligence, assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, as well as a count for Vitellaro’s willful and wanton conduct. There are five counts against the City of Chicago, in their capacity as Vitellaro’s employer and supervisor, including the following: a count for the City of Chicago’s own willful and wanton conduct, negligent supervision, negligent retention, respondeat superior, and indemnification. The complaint asks for a civil trial by jury.
Romanucci & Blandin Founding Partner Antonio M. Romanucci, Partner Bhavani K. Raveendran and Attorney Javier Rodriguez Jr. represent the plaintiff, Angel Nieves, as the father of the minor.
Video of the incident went “viral” in July 2022, as people around the city, country, and world saw firsthand Vitellaro’s use of excessive force on an unarmed child without cause.
“This was an ambush. This child presented zero physical threat to the officer and never initiated any physical or verbal contact nor made eye contact with the unidentified and out-of-uniform officer. Any reasonable officer would have known to address this situation by talking it through, not by rushing into a physical takedown in a public place. First of all, Sergeant Vitellaro did not have a reasonable suspicion that our client had stolen the bike, but even if he had, the Sergeant should have known from his training that the next step was to conduct a Terry stop and to talk with the person in question, in order to begin an investigation. Sergeant Vitellaro’s violent actions were a clear overreach, an overreaction, and an excessive use of force. There is a very real danger to society for an adult to put a child he does not know into an arm lock and conduct a de facto arrest based only on a hunch,” said Founding Partner Antonio M. Romanucci. “Further, Vitellaro’s behavior is concerning in light of recent reports on use of force complaints against Chicago Police, with the independent monitor of the Consent Decree stating that there have been nearly 4,000 investigations into police conduct since the Consent Decree began in 2019, and the majority of those resulting from citizen complaints about excessive force.”
“Vitellaro’s conduct shocked both the community of Park Ridge, as well as decent people around the world,” said Attorney Javier Rodriguez, Jr. “This conduct cannot be tolerated, and both Vitellaro and the City of Chicago will be held accountable for their actions. We look forward to questioning Sergeant Vitellaro on the stand and holding him to account before a twelve-person jury of his peers, and, further, allowing a jury to decide for themselves what justice and accountability look like.”
“The misuse of force, irrational behavior, and unprovoked actions of this Chicago Police Sergeant cannot go unchecked, so we will continue to fight for our son, and, in doing so, hope to advocate for others who feel voiceless in their pursuit of justice,” said Angel Nieves, father and plaintiff.
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About Romanucci & Blandin, LLC
Romanucci & Blandin is a Chicago-based national trial practice committed to fighting for victims of negligence, abuse and wrongful death. For 25 years, we have secured more than $850 million in verdicts and settlements for our clients - many for millions of dollars and others record-setting awards. Our experience ranges from mass shootings, civil rights and police misconduct to medical malpractice, sexual abuse, motor vehicle accidents or workplace injury cases involving individual or institutional negligence. Romanucci & Blandin is a valuable legal resource to individuals and groups of people who have been injured by others’ wrongdoing. Referring attorneys and clients say several factors differentiate our firm: Our record of success, depth of experience, talented and dedicated legal team, tireless preparation and strategic use of communications to fight for the rights of those whose lives have been changed forever. We are different from other personal injury firms in that our work does not stop when a verdict or settlement is secured. We are often inspired by our clients’ experiences and commit resources to create change in our communities. For more information about Romanucci & Blandin, please visit www.rblaw.net or call (312) 313-7543.