Friday, September 28, 2007
Chicago cop: One punch got me five years
CHICAGO, Illinois -- Mike Mette has been a Chicago police officer for almost four years. But now, as a result of a fistfight one night in Dubuque, Iowa, he is a convicted felon.

Mette has been sentenced to almost five years in prison after Dubuque County Judge Monica Ackley found him guilty of assault causing serious injury. Mette says he's been wronged.

"I was arrested for self-defense ... I was defending myself," he said.

Click here to read more

By David Mattingly, CNN Correspondent
Katherine Wojtecki, CNN Producer
Posted By CNN: 2:33 PM ET
  23 Comments
It's a rare occurance, when a poice officer is held to the same laws as the citizenry, who pays their salaries and for whom they are sworn to serve and protect.
Posted By Kim : 3:05 PM ET
I find it hard to believe that Mike Mette punched the guy once and he recieved all of those bruises and a brain bleed! We all know how alot of police think they are above the law and take things into their own hands, so to speak! So I wouldn't doubt that this was the case here!

If not then I hope something comes out that can get the verdict overturned before he has to turn himself in to prison.

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Cindy : 3:17 PM ET
My first inclination is to side with the officer. The injury to his hand would back up the punch he says he threw. then, too there is no indication that he was inebriated, whereas the "victim" was said to be. Officer Mette came from a law enforcement family and had four years on the force.

No further background is given on either subject. No outside witnesses, and those present don't necessarily make good witnesses.

The same fall, or blow will usually produce similar injuries, however, other patterns cannot be eliminated.

No traces of blood on walkways, etc? Someone taking a beating like that would certainly bleed, and injuries would most likely appear all over the body.

Can't wait to hear other comments!

Maggie
Posted By Anonymous : 3:37 PM ET
Sounds like an open and shut case of self defense, but unfortunately Barney Fife is presiding over the case. The judge determined that Gotthard was the aggressor, so why wouldn't the cop act in self defense after he was attacked? Is he supposed to take the hit just because he's a cop? This doesn't sound like a fair trial.
Posted By Anonymous : 4:02 PM ET
It sounds like he got a fair trial and the evidence doesn't support his story.

With the preference that police usually receive in the judicial system, its good to see some fair & equitable application of the law for once.
Posted By underground : 4:09 PM ET
It would be interesting to hear the medical evidence presented by the defense that the victim's injuries were caused by only one punch. It sure didn't look that way to me in the report last night! Still, the officer was convicted of a felony for causing serious injuries. I'd like to know what the legal definition is of a "serious" injury.

There have been so many problems with police brutality here in Los Angeles that it's becoming increasingly difficult to routinely accept an officer's report at face value without question. The public should not have to be suspicious of the police and they shouldn't have to work under such circumstances. Everyone loses when officers don't play by the rules.
Posted By Barbara in Culver City, CA : 4:34 PM ET
The cop did act in self defense, but took it too far. It looked like he beat the victim to a pulp. How many beers did he have anyway? I'm glad he's no longer on our streets as a cop......
Posted By Anonymous : 4:56 PM ET
The cop did act in self defense, but took it too far. It looked like he beat the victim to a pulp. How many beers did he have anyway? I'm glad he's no longer on our streets as a cop......
Posted By Anonymous : 4:57 PM ET
Maybe if we insisted that anyone who wishes to be a law enforcement officer should be held to a higher standard than the rest of the civilian population. It seems that a police officer should not be indulging in bar-hopping and crashing house parties in the first place.
Posted By Jim Twiss, Pembroke, MA : 5:22 PM ET
David, thanks for covering this story. I do think justice was served here. The outcome of this story is actually a breath of fresh air, given that there are so many police brutalities that have gone unpunished. I hope this is a reminder to law enforcement that laws apply to them too.
Posted By Lilibeth, Edmonds, Washington : 5:44 PM ET
I firmly believe that law officers and government officials that are found guilty of breaking the law, which they swear to uphold; should be given sentences of at least the same as a civillian or as much as double.
Posted By Anonymous : 6:37 PM ET
Welcome to life on the other side Mike! I am sure that you have arrested many people who have had one time situations like this that practically ruin their life as a result of the "charges" that you police officers essentially make up. Your incident was almost identical to mine, and is still haunting me 6 years later. It almost cost me my career!
Posted By Anonymous : 6:58 PM ET
5 years? That's outrageous, even if the cop went overboard. When someone attacks you, you don't think rationally - you defend yourself as nature intended. When the government sentences a citizen to 5 years in jail for defending himself, watch out. The cop did not start this fight. The government wasting its time and money prosecuting this is complete nuts.
Posted By Dave : 7:00 PM ET
It's amazing how viewers can reach these conclusions based on a 2-minute news article. There is so much information that was not - and couldn't be - included in this report. But those who hate cops will always say "welcome to the other side," without bothering to look it up. Mette was found guilty not of assaulting this kid but of failing to walk away from a fight.
Posted By Julie : 11:21 PM ET
pardon if this is a duplicate post -

This case is a complete travesty of justice and stinks to high heavens of local politics.

The whole incident was instigated by the drunk college student "victim" who played on his old injuries.

Stay on this story CNN.
Posted By Therese Morong, Chicago : 11:56 PM ET
Hmm, he walked away, was chased down by the "victim" who then attacted him and he defended himself?
Only in a little "boss hogg" type of town would the guy be charged with this crime.
I think Iowa should clean up it own mess. They stink as bad as the "corupt" big cities
Posted By Anonymous : 11:59 PM ET
There are several issues (and perceptions) about this case (and the reporting of it) that are grotesque.
Yes, Mette is a police officer, IN CHICAGO, not IOWA! Chicago DOES NOT have a "required to retreat" law, and even if it did, Mette did retreat, over a block, to the front of his brother's house. Was he supposed to retreat further? Where? I can only assume that IOWA does not have any laws related to the "Castle Doctrine", if what you are allegedly supposed to do when you get to your front door while being followed by a drunk guy trying to beat the hell out of you, is turn around and stand there while he beats the hell out of you.

Mette was a CIVILIAN when this occurerd, NOT A POLICE OFFICER, absolutely out of jurisdiction, no police powers, etc.
Mette did not attempt to use his police powers, powers which only apply in ILLINOIS, not IOWA. Why then is that fact that Mette is a police officer in Chicago, Illinois, of any jurisprudence in Iowa? Why does Mette's occupation as a Chicgo police officer appear in the judges ruling? What relevance does this information have? Why is the judge (and everyone else for that matter) holding Mette to a different standard then a citizen, when in IOWA, Mette is a citizen, and nothing more?
As far as the term "severly injured" being a significantly vague term, I would suggest that part of the definition does not include "injuries which make playing golf difficult or impossible" as that is just what the "victim" did, in a tournament, shortly after this incident.
As a citizen of chicago, I would naturally wonder if politics has had any undue influence on these proceedings? Would the notion that the father of the "victim", a person who has made millions upon millions of dollars from state contracts in Iowa, a person with more clout then many Iowa politicans, have influenced these proceedings. Not in Iowa...maybe in Chicago, but not Iowa. That would be sensational, almost as sensational as the notion of a dirty cop.

Putting aside any spectulations about why this case has been pursued so vehemently, and acknowledging that there exists some bad blood now between many/most members of the Chicago police and the state of Iowa over this matter, it may be possible that I am misquided in my opinion of this matter, possibly due to my surroundings.
In Chicago, when a person comes after you, claiming that he intends to cause bodily harm to you, we call that action "assault" and we call the person who commits that act "offender", not "victim". In Chicago, when a person punches you several times, we call that "battery", and we call the person commiting that act "offender", not "victim". When a subject points a gun at a police officer, forcing the officer to fire his/her weapon at the subject in order to save his/her own life, we do not refer to the subject as "victim". We may use many different terms to describe this subject, but one of them is not "victim". And when a drunk person threatens and pursues another person, obviously his physical superior, for over a block, and then starts punching him...we have words for that too. One of those words is not "genius", and one of them is certainly not "victim".

Consider this scenario, as a resident of Iowa: some drunk guy is following you home, chasing behind you saying that he is going to beat the hell out of you. You get to your door and the guy is right there, now punching you. You puch him away, and he comes right back and punches you again. You make your stand and strik him, sending him (in his drunkenness) to the ground, where he hits his head in the concrete and is no longer an immediate threat to you. You ensure that the police and ambulance are notified and en-route. You stay there to answer any questions the police and/or ambulance may have. You are the offender, and you will lose everything you own, your job, and your freedom for 5 years. Does this sound right to you? The above scenario are the facts of the case against Mette, as related in the judges decision.

I cant say what I would have done in this scenario. Dropped the drunk, walked into the house, turned off the lights, and not opened the door. That would have ended my involvement in it right there.
Maybe I would do things the "Chicago way", put the drunk in the trunk and dump him somewhere.
Maybe I would do what Mette did. It sounds stand-up enough to me.
Who am I kidding, I'm a police officer, a Chicago police officer. I'm held to a higher standard. Protecting ones self is for civilians, not police officers. I would do my civic duty, and let the drunk guy beat the crap out of me.
Posted By Sir Donkey, esq, Chicago, IL : 3:27 AM ET
And to Anonymous at 6:37 pm, we DO get double the sentence, and the additional chare of "official misconduct", a felony.
Oh, And we get the front page, and the lead for the 5:00 news (who always give out where we live, so everyone we have arrested can find us).
Funny, I've never read "Plumber gets DUI'd" on the front page, but I'll bet it has happened once or twice. I guess that story doesn't sell papers or ads.
Posted By Anonymous : 3:42 AM ET
This case bothers me on several levels. Did Mette or his friends take the cellphone? Supposedly it was put into the mailbox outside. No one will really know what happened between Jake and Mette, but Mette did lie to the original officer saying Jake fell per the Judge's orders. I really am appalled at the severity of the punishment. Jake was 3x over the legal limit and chased them. Jake and his friends should have called the cops too. It is ludicrious that the Judge holds Mette to be the one that is suppose to walk away while not addressing Jake's chasing them and overintoxication. It should have been misdemeanor assault and probation not up 5 years and a felony.
Posted By Kane : 9:55 AM ET
putting a man away for 5 years for an altercation that he did not start seems ridiculous. Whats worse, the judge states that mette was not the aggressor but that he should have acted with more restraint given his occupation. He was off the clock, he should be tried as a man not a cop. If that was the case he would be found not guilty of self defense.
Posted By matt : 10:07 AM ET
Mike was railroaded and that is the truth. I guess just because he is the police when that guy followed him and laid hands on him he should have just let him knock his brains out. Would that make everyone happy? Picture YOUR family member in that position, police or non police before you make such outrageous comments.
Posted By Reenie L. : 4:39 PM ET
It certainly seems that the instigator should bear responsibility, whatever the outcome, for having been the instigator.
Shame on those who would hammer Mette because they once ran across a bad cop somewhere else. That bad cop wasn't Mette and he doesn't deserve to be the scapegoat for a few other bad cops, or to take a fall for a small-town grievance. Those of you writing to express joy at a cop in the court fail to understand that cops were here to help honest people stay honest and protect us from those who would not stay honest.
Though there are some who join the force to exercise power over others, and they should be dismissed and/or punished as fast as they are found, it doesn't appear that Mette is one of them.
Posted By Anonymous : 9:05 PM ET
Free Mike Mette.

Doesn't everybody know that "punks" always want to square off against the police?

If they didn't know how to defend themselves, they'd have no teeth, two black eyes and who knows what else.

In addition to offering your support and other legal options
maybe someone should think about starting a campaign to recall that judge, he must be stupid or a cop hater.
Posted By Anonymous : 5:45 PM ET
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