The long-awaited homicide trial of former Milwaukee Police officer Michael Mattioli is set to begin this week. Mattioli is accused of killing Joel Acevedo in April 2020 while off duty. Prosecutors allege that Mattioli put Acevedo in a choke-hold for several minutes after an argument at a party in Mattioli’s home. Acevedo died six days later in the hospital. Mattioli was charged with first-degree reckless homicide and later resigned from the Milwaukee Police Department.
The trial has gained attention due to the heightened scrutiny of police use of force, particularly choke-holds, following the George Floyd case. The trial’s delay can be attributed to the Covid-19 crisis, which caused significant court system delays, as well as the untimely retirement of a key witness, the former Milwaukee County medical examiner.
Legal analyst Jonathan LaVoy believes the key piece of evidence in the trial will be the cause of death. The prosecution argues that Acevedo’s death was a result of asphyxiation caused by the choke-hold, while the defense contends that it was a combination of a medical issue and the use of drugs and alcohol. Additionally, unedited body camera footage showing the perspective of officers arriving at the scene is expected to be crucial evidence.
LaVoy suggests that Mattioli testifying in his defense will be crucial to explain his actions and state of mind to the jury. Jury selection is scheduled to begin on Monday, and the trial is expected to last one to two weeks.