Philadelphia, PA — This week, Pennsylvania state Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced that no charges will be filed against Officer Richard Nicoletti, who was seen on video executing an unarmed father of three by shooting him in the head at point blank range as he was surrounded by police.
Jeffrey Dennis, 36, was gunned down in broad daylight by Nicoletti, a 29-year-veteran assigned to the Narcotics Field Unit of the Philadelphia police department. Police were preparing to serve a search warrant on Dennis' home over alleged drug dealing when they found him on the road and murdered him.
Shapiro launched an investigation into Dennis' killing in August just after it took place.
"My office conducted a thorough four-month review of this case, interviewing witnesses, examining video footage, and analyzing all available evidence," Shapiro said in a statement. "We applied the facts to Pennsylvania law, and accordingly, no criminal charges against Richard Nicoletti will be filed by my office."
The family is heartbroken that the officer who needlessly killed their son/father/fiance will not face charges.
Dennis was a father to three children — ages 7, 11, and 17 — and had just been engaged to be married. After he was killed, his family demanded that Nicoletti be fired and charged, but this will not happen.
The incident took place on August 20th, around 4:15 p.m. As police were preparing to serve a search warrant on Dennis' home, they found him driving his Toyota Camry on Hegerman Street nearby.
As the video shows, Dennis is driving down the street when an unmarked black car turns up the street, going the wrong way. Dennis tried to back up, but then realized another unmarked car was behind him. As he tries to get away from what he likely thought was a mob hit, the cars collide and Dennis stops temporarily.
At this point, a half dozen plainclothes cops — with no clothes identifying themselves as police officers — jump out and surround the vehicle. One of the plainclothes cops runs to the driver's side of the vehicle and smashes out the window of the vehicle. The only person with any identifying clothing on was in the back of the vehicle in Dennis' blind spot.
The smashing out of his window appeared to scare Dennis even more, who then tried once more to drive away. At no time in the video did Dennis appear to target police or run them down and most of the officers appeared to understand that they were not in danger.
However, less than one minute after confronting Dennis, Nicolletti is seen in a gray t-shirt and shorts, walking up to the driver's side window and dumping multiple shots into the head and arm of Dennis.
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Dennis was pronounced dead at the scene.
As Philly.com reports,
Police Department policy forbids the discharge of shots into a moving vehicle. Protocols also prohibit shooting "to subdue a fleeing individual who presents no immediate threat of death or serious physical injury to themselves or another person."
But Shapiro said violations of police procedures do not always rise to the level of criminal charges.
"Whether the Philadelphia Police Department procedure was followed during this incident was not in the scope of our investigation, and will be addressed by Commissioner Ross and the department," Shapiro said.
According to Shaun King, who claims he is in contact with the family, and Lee Merritt, the attorney representing the family of Dennis, multiple witnesses described a horrific scene in which they thought Dennis was the subject of a mafia hit.
King wrote the following on Facebook Thursday:
When witnesses in the neighborhood saw this, they literally thought they were witnessing an assassination or mob hit of some kind. Family and friends believe Jeffrey thought the same thing. Alarmed, he tried to pull away, when older white men in regular clothes got out of their cars, pointed their guns, and NEVER identified themselves.
Not one time did they announce that they were police officers. SEVERAL WITNESSES have each confirmed this. Suddenly, one of the men gets a large iron weapon from the trunk of his car and aggressively shatters the glass in the driver's side window in Jeffrey's face, cutting his face severely.
Confused and disoriented, literally with glass in his eyes, Jeffey tries to drive away, when one of the officers walks right up to Jeffrey at 0:58 in this video, puts the gun in Jeffreys face, and fires his gun over and over again right in Jeffrey's face, killing him instantly. This is murder. It is illegal. It violates the law and violates city policy.
The Free Thought Project could not confirm the witness accounts. However, when watching the video below, a similar scene to what is described above appears to play out.
Dennis was not suspected of child trafficking, or murder, or theft, or property damage, or any other crime that involved an actual victim. He was suspected of selling willing customers a substance they voluntarily wanted to pay him for. And for this, a father of three, beloved fiance, son, and football coach was murdered.
Below is a video which shows why the war on drugs must be brought to its knees, not a year from now, not 6 months from now, but today.