Fired SWAT Officer Richard Nicoletti: Charged with Assault for OC Spraying “Peaceful Protesters”
Former Philadelphia SWAT officer Richard Nicoletti was charged with misdemeanor crimes and fired following an incident in which he sprayed protesters with OC (pepper spray) as they knelt on the freeway. The subjects were in the middle of I-676 – one of the freeways that run through Philadelphia. His attorney states that he sprayed the protesters in the manner he did because he was ordered to get them off the freeway, and was authorized to use OC or tear gas.
Richard Nicoletti is an Army Ranger Veteran. He is well versed in the concept of following orders. He was ordered to use pepper spray to get the protesters off the freeway. When he did that, he was fired and charged with simple assault, reckless endangerment, official oppression and possession of an instrument of crime.
The leadership of the Philadelphia Police and the city folded like a cheap suitcase in the face of heat from the “protesters.” During the altercations, Nicoletti received an injury to his shin after being struck with a brick. Peaceful protesters…not.
“Everybody else is being let go by the district attorney in Philadelphia. The only ones that are being charged are the Philadelphia police officers. Don’t tell me they were peaceful protesters and then two weeks later apologize to them. Our officers were out there doing our job and this is what they get in return.” Fraternal Order of Police President John Mcnesby
District Attorney Larry Krasner stated, “You’re not above the law. The law applies to everyone. It applies equally and in an even-handed fashion.” Funny how that “law for everyone” is lax for the protesters who knelt on the freeway.
Richard Nicoletti would likely have been fired either way around, whether he followed the order or didn’t follow it. He was in a catch-22 position.
When he pulled down the mask of one of the kneeling protesters and sprayed the person directly in the face, that action is what drove the charges against him. The attorney for the protesters wanted a harsher punishment rather than just misdemeanor charges and firing. Should he have done that? Probably not. By the same token, being ordered to use Pepper Spray and/or tear gas to get them off the freeway was a command decision for which they are not taking responsibility.
Leadership in law enforcement actually requires LEADERSHIP. It seems to be severely lacking all the way around all across the nation.
Featured photo: Screenshot via CBS3 Philadelphia