Family of Joel Acevedo says events in Minnesota prompted them to speak out; rally Friday

MILWAUKEE -- George Floyd gasped for breath during a Memorial Day arrest in which an officer kneeled on his neck for almost eight minutes. In footage recorded by a bystander, Floyd can be heard pleading that he can’t breathe until he slowly stops talking and moving. Floyd's death hit close to home for the family of Joel Acevedo, who died on April 25 following a fight with an off-duty Milwaukee police officer at the officers home near 45th Street and Cleveland Avenue in Milwaukee. Acevedo's family plans to speak publicly Friday, May 29.

An activist working with Acevedo's family said they're tired of some officers acting above the law -- and they're calling for accountability.

After witnessing the violence in Minnesota -- the family said they believe they must speak out.

Joel Acevedo, Michael Mattioli -- Memorial for George Floyd in Minneapolis (Getty Images)

Tory Lowe

"We cannot tolerate this type of policing or this type of above the law behavior, the crossing the line behavior that's going on in America," said Tory Lowe, community activist.

Lowe said Acevedo's family asked him to organize Friday's rally -- where they'll speak publicly for the first time.

Milwaukee Police Officer Michael Mattioli faces a charge of first-degree reckless homicide after prosecutors said the 13-year MPD veteran held Acevedo in a reverse choke hold during a fight inside Mattioli's home. Prosecutors said Mattioli indicated he "held (Acevedo) on the ground" after Acevedo tried stealing from him and punched another man in the home. It happened the morning after the off-duty officer hosted a get-together at his home. When police arrived, Acevedo was not breathing, and did not have a pulse. He died six days later.

Off-duty police officer involved in fight that left 25-year-old man seriously injured near 45th and Cleveland

Joel Acevedo

As of Thursday, Mattioli was free on bond -- suspended from the department, but still receiving a paycheck -- pending an investigation by the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission.

"If I had done what he's done in my house, I would locked up, I would have a higher bail, not only would I not be at home right now, I would not be receiving a paycheck," said Lowe. "He shouldn't be treated as if he's above the law, and that's what is going on."

Friday's rally will take place outside Mattioli's home. Lowe said it will be peaceful -- and city leaders called for the same.

"This is not a time for civil unrest," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. "This is a time for soul searching. This is a time for honest conversation. This is a time to take steps to deal with the racial issues this community and this nation face."

The Acevedo rally is one of two planned for Friday. FOX6 News reached out to Milwaukee police to see if they planned to send officers. A spokeswoman said the department would issue a statement sometime Thursday.