Tuesday, July 21, 2020

D.A. Orders Cop Who Used Pepper Spray To Turn Himself In

By A. Benjamin Mannes
for BigTrial.net

Philadelphia Police Department sources say that Officer Richard Nicoletti was ordered by District Attorney Larry Krasner to turn himself in Wednesday to be prosecuted.

Nicoletti was the 12-year Philadelphia police veteran and SWAT officer recently fired for following orders to use nonlethal chemical irritants to clear the Vine Street expressway from unlawful protesters in late June.

The Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police had argued that Nicoletti was unlawfully terminated for deploying OC (Pepper) spray and CS (tear) gas on the nearly 200 protesters that unlawfully stopped traffic on Philadelphia’s only East/West interstate highway. But the impending charges against Officer Nicoletti by D. A. Krasner are yet one more sign of increased politicization in the use of prosecutorial powers by the local D.A.

In a July 8th interview with WHYY, Krasner spoke extensively about his desire to charge Nicoletti, stating numerous factors that show a bias in his prosecution and selective nature of how he charges.

Even though the interviewer opened the line of questioning with the fact that Nicoletti was given a lawful order, by [then] Deputy Commissioner Dennis Wilson upon approval of Commissioner Danielle Outlaw to use these chemicals to clear the expressway, Krasner immediately shifted to his opinion of the appearances of how Nicoletti carried out his orders. 

In his description, Krasner describes how Nicoletti “pulls down the masks of the protesters to empty a huge can of pepper spray into the eyes and mouths of the protesters.” 

The truth is, the protesters were wearing eye and facial protection (not merely COVID masks) to counter the effects of OC and CS use by police, and had seated themselves in a lane of traffic to make it difficult for the police to remove them, thus holding every motorist from the Schuylkill Expressway to the Ben Franklin Bridge hostage to their unlawful protest.

Not only were their actions a sign of pre-planning and premeditation, but the tactic of pulling down these masks to administer the nonlethal irritants has been a nationally approved method for controlling riots and unlawful civil disturbances for decades. 

Also, at the beginning of this video, a protester is clearly seen throwing a tear gas canister at Nicoletti before the protester takes a seat on the highway. The protester is one of a trio sitting on the ground subsequently pepper-sprayed by Nicoletti.

What Krasner fails to realize, having no law enforcement training or experience whatsoever, is that when the ability to use nonlethal irritants like CS gas and OC spray is taken away, law enforcement is resulted to using physical controls, tasers and/or less-lethal projectiles (such as rubber bullets, stinger grenades, and bean bag rounds) to disperse crowds.

While a physical confrontation between law enforcement and a large crowd is never pleasant to watch, even a politically-motivated operator like Krasner can admit that it’s far better to use a nonlethal irritant that is cured with water to arrest a suspect than something that can escalate to potential injury or death.

More disturbingly, Krasner continues into the interview to mention a completely unrelated shooting of a suspect who charged his vehicle at an “elder Nicoletti," who was never indicted of any crime. In doing so, Krasner shows a prejudice toward Officer Nicoletti by some sort of “guilt by relation and/or association” with the “elder Nicoletti” on a live media telecast. 

Krasner's beef with the elder Nicolletti stems from a prior case where Krasner represented the decedent in a completely urelated police shooting involving the elder Nicoleltti. Because of that conflict of interest, Krasner had to recuse himself from prosecuting the elder Nicoletti. 

The case was sent to the state attorney general's office for prosecution, and they cleared the officers involved in the shooting, including the elder Nicoletti.

Krasner further sought to prejudice this case in the same interview by relating the Nicoletti matter to his office’s current indictment of Ryan Pownall, for the shooting of David Jones, an armed suspect who was hit in the back. Pownall’s case has been indefinitely delayed while Krasner seeks to change the law after charged him (presenting a clear habeas corpus and civil rights issue), it is still a highly political case among Krasner’s voting base.

Sources are unclear as to what charges Nicoletti is to turn himself in for, but what is blatantly clear is how this is yet another blatant example of how the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is again violating the rights of citizens by creating a double standard in where vetted, cleared police officers are charged more vehemently than career criminals who have long records of community victimization.

This leaves many Philadelphians to wonder when state and federal officials will step in to do something about the blatant policy of selective enforcement in our city. Before the brave civil servants we trust to protect us are used as sacrificial lambs for Krasner’s dangerous political platform.


  1. Ralph, I didn't know that "objective" criminal prosecution was delivered in such a "pick and choose" manner. Our top city leaders, who miraculously are able to stand upright, remind me of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry is petrified of the pending polygraph examination. George consoles him by saying: "Don't worry, if you believe it, it is not a lie." James and Larry, what a team....not unlike the Trumpster with their narrow, distorted and fact-less perspective and philosophy....

  2. We all know by now that Krasner is a POS. Throwing napalm into the fire was spineless Kenney bringing in Ms. Antifa from Portland, Outlaw. This set-up now goes way beyond being just a joke. It's a serious crime against the tax-paying, law-abiding citizens of Philadelphia. Heaven help us all, and please, sweet Jesus, take care of our wonderful boys in blue. Please.


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