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Judge rules body camera video can be released in death of Joel Acevedo

WISN Milwaukee logo WISN Milwaukee 5/5/2021
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A Milwaukee County judge ruled Wednesday police body camera video can be released in the death of Joel Acevedo.

The 25-year-old died eight days after an altercation last April with off-duty Milwaukee police Officer Michael Mattioli.

The altercation took place the morning after a party at Mattioli's home.

Prosecutors said Mattioli put Acevedo in a chokehold, causing his death.

He was charged with first-degree reckless homicide and is free on bail.

Mattioli was suspended from the police department and has since resigned.

The Acevedo family has been fighting for the release of body camera video from responding officers.

Prosecutors said they do not want to release the 911 calls or the body camera video to protect the potential jury pool.

Mattioli sued to keep from having the videos released.

A judge determined redacted portions of the body camera videos could be released.

Acevedo's parents told WISN 12's Hillary Mintz on Wednesday they have mixed emotions about this ruling.

"On one side, we're getting what we should have gotten already, what a year ago? And on the other side, it's disappointing that they want to redact the video and cover Mattioli's face and his words, which I believe is going to show the aggressiveness that he had in there," Jose Acevedo said.

There's no word yet on exactly when the video will be released.

The redactions have to be made, and then the family will make it public on their own terms.

"It often seems that in the fight for equal justice, we move two steps forward, and one step back," national civil rights attorney Ben Crump said in a statement to WISN 12. "This is certainly a step forward in achieving justice for Joel Acevedo. Bodycam footage ensures a level of law enforcement accountability, but only when made available to the public. We are encouraged by this decision by the court, and hope that the video release is expeditious. Just as the family of Andrew Brown Jr. deserves answers now, so do Joel’s family and the Milwaukee community."

The judge said the public interest in the release of the videos outweighed any privacy concerns.

"We are pleased with the court's decision and believe that it is a great step toward transparency and accountability in law enforcement," attorney B'Ivory LaMarr said in a statement to WISN 12. "While the road to justice may be cumbersome, victories afforded like this go a long way toward renewed optimism and confidence in the social justice movement and our judicial system."

The ruling said Mattioli's voice and image must be blurred from the videos so as not to interfere with his right to have a fair trial.

"We are in the process of reviewing Judge Pocan's decision and will consider all options going forward as we continue to work to protect Mr. Mattioli's constitutional right to a fair trial," Mattioli's defense attorneys said in a statement to WISN 12.

In December, the attorney representing the Acevedo family released the 911 call from the day of the altercation.

"Let me go home," Acevedo can be heard shouting within the first five seconds of the 911 call.

Mattioli made the call but eventually, someone else takes over on the line.

During the profanity-laced 911 call, there are sounds of a struggle.

"Michael Mattioli is the name of the police officer, the house we're at," the unidentified man on the call tells the dispatcher. "The man is attacking all of us."

Mattioli will be back in court June 4.

He has pleaded not guilty.

If convicted, Mattioli faces up to 60 years in prison.

READ MORE:Judge rules body camera video can be released in death of Joel Acevedo

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