A former Utica Police officer pleaded guilty on Tuesday to violating the constitutionally protected rights of an arrestee to be free from excessive force by a law enforcement officer.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says 37-year-old Matthew Felitto admitted that on September 4, 2020 while working as a UPD officer, he kicked a handcuffed and shackled suspect who had been arrested.

Felitto had arrived on the scene of the arrest to assist in transporting the arrested individual to the police station

Officials say Felitto kicked the suspect several times in the face and upper chest while wearing work boots as he was laying on the floor of a van.

They says the kicks were without legal justification and were made with sufficient force to cause the arrestee pain and a bruised/swollen lip.

“My office is committed to holding police officers accountable when they violate the constitutional rights of the citizens they are sworn to serve, even those under arrest,” said United States Attorney Carla  Freedman. “Police officers routinely respond to high-stress and high-stakes situations, and they regularly handle those responsibilities with professionalism and poise, but when an officer uses excessive force and violates the civil rights of others, we will pursue those cases aggressively.”

Felitto will be sentenced on May 25.

Under the plea agreement, Felitto will receive a sentence of probation for a term and under conditions set by the Court, and a fine of $7,500.

As a felon, Felitto will also be prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm.

Felitto was also required to resign from the Utica Police Department effective immediately.

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