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Philly police identify SWAT officer to be fired for pepper spraying protesters on 676

Chris Palmer and Jeremy Roebuck, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in News & Features

In 2011, Nicoletti was involved in another incident that attracted attention. While responding to a report of a suicidal man inside a North Philadelphia home, police said, Nicoletti was grazed by a bullet as he scuffled with the man over his gun. Nicoletti's partner, Officer Matthew McCarthy, fired two shots that killed the man, Carmelo Winans.

Police said at the time that Nicoletti had tried to subdue Winans because he was holding a knife. Police said Winans then grabbed hold of Nicoletti's gun, prompting McCarthy to fire, with the bullets striking Winans in the chest.

Winans' family filed a lawsuit disputing that version of events and accusing Nicoletti of using excessive force. They contended that Nicoletti attacked Winans after Winans complied with police orders and dropped the knife. They also said he never tried to grab hold of the officer's gun.

In 2014, the city agreed to pay $405,000 to Winans' family and their attorneys.

Nicoletti's father, also named Richard, is also a longtime city police officer. He made headlines in 2018 when, police said, he fatally shot 36-year-old Jeffrey Dennis during a narcotics investigation in Tacony. Video of the incident showed Dennis bumping his car into unmarked police cars as a group of plainclothes officers surrounded his vehicle, guns drawn, and smashed one of its windows with a long-handled hammer.

As Dennis tried to drive away, the elder Nicoletti fired his gun through the driver's side window at point-blank range, killing Dennis.

 

Nicoletti was cleared of criminal wrongdoing in that incident by state Attorney General Josh Shapiro and remained on the force.

According to Internal Affairs records, the elder Nicoletti also shot someone during a drug investigation in 2012. The records said he had four previous "firearm discharge incidents" before that shooting. Then-Commissioner Richard Ross said those other incidents involved dogs, not people.

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