MI AG expected to authorize charges against former police officer

Van Buren County

HARTFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Attorney General’s office is expected to authorize charges against a former Hartford Police officer following an August 2020 arrest. 

Michigan State Police say they were notified by the AG’s office about two misdemeanor charges against 30-year-old Matthew Mistretta.

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s office said in August of 2020, there was a call for a domestic disturbance near Springdale Drive and Red Arrow Hwy in Hartford Township. Police say there was an altercation at a home between a man and woman that ended in one person being hit by a car, pinned to a light post and ultimately killed. 

Family confirms the victim was 17-year-old Jesus De La Rosa. They tell News 8 crews he was not directly involved in the fight. 

Court documents show the driver, 21-year-old Lauro Espino, was later pulled over and arrested near S Center and E Oak St. by officer 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.

The Hartford Police Department said after an investigation into Espino’s case began, police were made aware of a video of Espino’s arrest and launched an investigation into the manner in which the suspect was handled. There were no formal complaints made by the suspect.

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

Police said at the end of last year as MSP investigated Mistretta’s conduct during the arrest, he was terminated by the Hartford Police Department.

The AG’s office is now expected to authorize two misdemeanor assault charges against Mistretta.

The Attorney General’s office denied News 8’s requests for comment Wednesday.

Espino is expected in court next week.

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