Amid calls for firing, Chief Morales says, 'I'm going to do (my job) until I'm told not to'

John Larry

MILWAUKEE -- Will Alfonso Morales remain chief of the Milwaukee Police Department? A group of citizens wants him terminated, and on Monday, July 20, the Fire and Police Commission will vote and issue directives for the chief in a special session. The chief said Saturday, July 18 he will continue to do his job until he's told not to.

Speaking briefly with FOX6 News Saturday, Chief Morales said he wants to keep his job.

"I am the chief of police for the Milwaukee Police Department, and I'm going to do so until I'm told not to," said Morales.

First impressions are formed in seconds, and John Larry held off before forming his, but says time has run out.

"I'm not anti-police," said Larry. "I'm anti- bad police, and bad policing happens when there is bad leadership," said Larry.

Larry and dozens of others are calling for Morales to be terminated "immediately."

A letter points to the chief’s lack of action surrounding the death of Joel Acevedo — with one of his officers charged with homicide. The group says the city is not safe, while the chief’s supporters, including the Milwaukee Police Association, say Chief Morales hasn’t received a fair shot at doing his job.

Amid the calls for justice for Joel Acevedo, protesters have fixed their attention on what they call inaction from Morales — choosing not to fire Officer Michael Mattioli, 32, a 13-year veteran of the Milwaukee Police Department, facing a charge of first-degree reckless homicide in connection with Acevedo’s death. Prosecutors said Acevedo died following a fight inside Mattioli’s home on April 19, the morning after the off-duty officer hosted a get-together. A criminal complaint said Mattioli “held (Acevedo) on the ground” after Acevedo tried stealing from him and punched another man in the home. Acevedo, 25, died from his injuries on April 25. His death was ruled a homicide as a result of brain injury due to traumatic strangulation.

Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales

Chief Morales could have terminated Mattioli’s employment. Instead, the Fire and Police Commission took command of the internal investigation — referring disciplinary charges against Mattioli for code of conduct violations related to Acevedo’s death. The disciplinary trial referred by the FPC is the first step toward terminating his employment with the department.

Letters sent to the FPC are calling for Morales to be fired — asking how the city could feel safe when the man in charge of enforcing the law fails to enforce any basic or humane standard of accountability in his own ranks.

"Chief Morales had the opportunity to discipline Mattioli immediately, but he failed to do so," said Larry.

Dale Bormann

Those calling for his firing also say Morales has lost the trust of the community by overreacting and using force against peaceful protesters.

Meanwhile, Chief Morales’ supporters, including the Milwaukee Police Association, say they feel he hasn’t been given the opportunity to deliver on his vision as chief, noting he's a good leader who's won the respect of his officers.

"I think they need to allow him to do his job -- to do what he promises to do for the city of Milwaukee," said Dale Bormann, president of the MPA. "He has not been given the opportunity to do that yet."

The only item on the agenda for Monday's special session is a resolution to vote and issue directives for the chief. It's unclear what those directives could be.