Des Moines, IA—The Iowa Court of Appeals has ruled on the controversial case of Chicago police officer Michael Mette. Mette has been serving hard time in Iowa’s prison system. So far Mette has been behind bars for nearly an entire year.
It was on October 8th 2005, Chicago police officer Michael Mette of the Fillmore District was attacked by a Dubuque college student, 20-year-old Jake Gothard while attending a birthday celebration at his brother’s home. Before it was over, officer Mette was arrested, prosecuted, convicted and has been serving a mandatory five-year Iowa prison term.
The problem with the conviction is that Mette’s action came as a result of pure self-defense to avoid injury from an assault by the drunken Gothard. The assault was compounded by the findings by a lower court judge who convicted Mette despite strong evidence that there was no crime.
While in prison Mette complained of abdominal pain and was refused medical treatment. Mette had appendicitis and finally his condition became life threatening and he had to have a portion his bowels removed in emergency surgery.
The case has proven to be an outrage that has mobilized Mette’s fellow officers, Mayor Daley and Chicago’s police superintendent Jody Weiss to seek Mette’s release from this unjust conviction.
With the reversal of the conviction Mette should be able to return to duty as a Chicago police officer without delay. I suspect that he should be getting back pay for the work he’s missed while in prison. I know that Mette’s fellow officers will welcome him with open arms.
The sad part of this story is Michael Mette and his family will never get back that year of his life wasted by an unjust conviction. This is at best a bittersweet conclusion to a frightening and sad story.
So far prosecutors have not said if they plan to take their case to the Iowa Supreme Court. They have 20 days to do so. I would expect a fairly quick release of Mette from prison as a result of a yet to be entered lower court order.
Here is a copy of today’s ruling by the Court of Appeals: