PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Another Philadelphia police officer is charged in connection with actions taken during George Floyd protests in the city. Authorities say SWAT officer Richard Nicoletti was involved in a pepper-spraying incident that made national headlines.
Nicoletti, the Philadelphia SWAT officer captured on video last month pepper-spraying kneeling protesters, turned himself in to face criminal charges.
Nicoletti will face charges of simple assault, reckless endangerment, official oppression and possession of an instrument of crime.
“You’re not above the law. The law applies to everyone. It applies equally and in an even-handed fashion,” Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said.
Nicoletti, a 12-year veteran of the police force, surrendered to authorities Wednesday morning.
The charges stem from video on June 1, as demonstrators gathered on I-676. Nicoletti could be seen pepper-spraying protesters. The video also showed him pulling down the mask of a woman, spraying her in the face and dousing two others with pepper spray.
Fraternal Order of Police President John Mcnesby defended Nicoletti in the midst of what they considered a dangerous situation.
“Everybody else is being let go by the district attorney in Philadelphia. The only ones that are being charged are the Philadelphia police officers,” McNesby said. “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.”
Kevin Mincey represents the three demonstrators seen being pepper-sprayed in the video. He says he’s grateful to see charges filed in this case, but he believes they should have been more harsh.
“I still feel a little disappointed because I don’t believe that simple assault appropriately encapsulates what Officer Nicoletti did on the expressway to my clients on that day. I think his malicious intent, and the amount of pepper spray that he used on all three of them, shows that he really intended to cause serious injury to them. And for that reason, I think he should’ve been charged with a felony, aggravated assault,” Mincey said.
Nicoletti’s attorney, Fortunado Perri Jr., released this statement, which reads in part:
“Richard Nicoletti is being charged with crimes for simply following orders. His unit was ordered by commanders to clear the highway with the approved use of tear gas and pepper spray. The city’s leadership was given the opportunity to apologize for approving the orders and use of force but Nicoletti finds himself fired and charged with crimes.”
Nicoletti’s attorney says his client is looking forward to being exonerated in this case and getting back to serving and protecting the law-abiding citizens of Philadelphia.