AG charges former officer accused of police brutality

Van Buren County

HARTFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says her office has charged a former Hartford police officer in connection to an August 2020 arrest.

On May 25, Matthew Mistretta was charged with two counts of assault and battery, a 93-day misdemeanor, and one count of misconduct in office by a public official, a five-year felony.

The charges are in connection to the arrest of 21-year-old Lauro Espino by Mistretta. Espino is facing three felony charges for failure to stop at the scene of an accident causing bodily harm or death, driving on a suspended license and operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Video, which authorities say made it to social media, appears to show Mistretta throw the handcuffed suspect onto a patrol car then onto the ground. Mistretta also appears to kneel on the suspect.

The attorney general’s office said in a release Friday that the video shows at no point during the arrest was the suspect resisting or obstructing Mistretta. A passenger in the vehicle says they heard Espino tell Mistretta he couldn’t breathe.

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