Romanucci & Blandin reaction to verdict in criminal trial of Chicago Police Sergeant Michael Vitellaro for July 2022 takedown of a fourteen-year-old minor in Park Ridge without cause
CHICAGO (June 16, 2023) – Romanucci & Blandin, LLC, who represents the family of the Park Ridge fourteen-year-old minor who was physically restrained and subjected to a takedown without cause by a white Chicago Police Sergeant in July 2022. Today a judge issued a verdict in the trial of that officer, Michael Vitellaro, on two charges of felony official misconduct and felony aggravated battery. The family is represented by Founding Partner Antonio M. Romanucci, Partner Bhavani K. Raveendran and Attorney Javier Rodriguez, Jr, who issued the following statement:
Michael Vitellaro escaped criminal justice today. He also escaped a jury trial by exercising his right to a bench trial, knowing full well the odds of a favorable outcome were improved. However, he will not be able to escape our pursuit of justice in the civil courts, and we plan on mounting a vigorous prosecution to bring him to justice. The Judge today created a story that this child was somehow on the bike, despite no video evidence of that being true, to justify his not guilty ruling and exonerate this Chicago Police Officer.
We will keep the attention in this case squarely on the conduct of this officer. The video of this incident is clear; Vitellaro’s conduct shocked the community and decent people around the world. Vitellaro assaulted a fourteen-year-old boy in broad daylight without cause and his treatment of our client was a clear overreach, an overreaction and an excessive use of force. This child was unarmed and presented zero physical threat to the officer. There is no doubt our young client was innocent, and the trauma of this experience has indeed harmed him emotionally. We are quite disappointed that Judge Pavlus chose not to see Vitellaro’s conduct met the threshold for aggravated battery or official misconduct. We applaud the Cook County States Attorney’s office for bringing the charges to seek criminal accountability and we believe strongly the community is also supportive of seeking justice in this case… from neighbors in Park Ridge to the members of the Illinois Congressional delegation. With today’s conclusion of the criminal proceedings against Vitellaro, we will now seek full accountability in the civil courts and the filing of our complaint is imminent. The pursuit of justice for this family is not only about criminal justice, it is absolutely about social justice and ensuring young men and women of color and their communities can trust law enforcement officers who are sworn to protect all of them.
Additional support for the family comes from Representative Jan Schakowsky (IL-9) who stated:
“I’m still horrified by this case. We must ensure police - on and off duty - treat all people humanely and fairly. We need accountability and we must do better for our kids. This is another example of why we must pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.”
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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) 458-1000.