Jury deliberating fate of former Philly SWAT officer who pepper-sprayed protesters

Richard Nicoletti was seen pepper-spraying protesters on the Vine Street Expressway.

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Friday, May 5, 2023
Jury deliberating fate of ex-Philly SWAT officer who pepper-sprayed protesters
Jury deliberating fate of ex-Philly SWAT officer who pepper-sprayed protesters

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The fate of a former Philadelphia SWAT officer who was seen on video pepper-spraying protesters on I-676 during the 2020 George Floyd protests is now in the hands of a jury.

Closing arguments took place Thursday in the trial of 37-year-old Richard Nicoletti, who is facing charges of simple assault and reckless endangerment in connection with the incident.

Nicoletti was seen carrying a pepper spray can while he approached four kneeling protesters. Investigators say he then sprayed two of the protesters in the face.

READ | Philadelphia police officer charged for pepper spraying kneeling protesters on I-676

He also was seen on video pulling down the goggles of one of the protesters, before spraying her again in the face.

Investigators say he then proceeded to the third protester, who was sitting hunched over to protect his face with his legs crossed. Nicoletti reached down, grabbed, and threw the protester onto his back, spraying him with pepper spray while he was lying down and standing back up. Unable to see, the protester swung at the officer but did not make contact, investigators said.

The fourth protester, who was standing nearby, was not sprayed. None of the four were taken into police custody.

He was fired several weeks after the video surfaced.

In May 2021, a Philadelphia judge dismissed charges including simple assault, saying Nicoletti was following orders by his commanders.

Charges against him were later reinstated a month later.

Officials say Nicoletti is due back in court on Friday morning, when deliberations from the jury will continue.