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WOW: Philadelphia CHARGES police officer for pepper spraying protesters to get them off the interstate!

The district attorney in Philadelphia is charging a SWAT officer for pepper-spraying protesters to get them off the interstate. Here’s video of the altercation, which took place last month:

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The officer was following orders to remove the protesters, but has been fired and is being charged with “simple assault, reckless endangerment, official oppression, and possession of an instrument of crime”, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer:

The Philadelphia SWAT officer captured on video last month pulling down protesters’ masks and pepper spraying them as they knelt on the Vine Street Expressway turned himself in Wednesday to face criminal charges, according to the District Attorney’s Office and his lawyer.

Richard P. Nicoletti is expected to face charges of simple assault, reckless endangerment, official oppression, and possession of an instrument of crime, said Jane Roh, spokesperson for District Attorney Larry Krasner.

Nicoletti’s attorney, Fortunato Perri, Jr., said Nicoletti surrendered Wednesday morning.

In a statement, Krasner said Nicoletti “broke the laws he was sworn to uphold” and “interfered with Philadelphians’ and Americans’ peaceful exercise of their sacred constitutional rights of free speech and assembly.

“The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office will not make excuses for crimes committed by law enforcement that demean the democratic freedoms so many Americans have fought and died to preserve,” Krasner said.

Perri said in an email that Nicoletti, a 12-year veteran of the force and former Army Ranger who was deployed overseas three times, “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,” Perri said. “The city’s leadership was given the opportunity to apologize for approving the use of force, but Nicoletti finds himself fired and charged with crimes.”

Nicoletti was suspended from the Police Department last month for 30 days with intent to dismiss for his actions. Perri said Nicoletti “looks forward to being exonerated so that he can continue to protect and serve the law abiding members of our city.”

On June 1, as demonstrators gathered on the highway, Nicoletti could be seen on video dousing three of them with pepper spray as they knelt in the middle of the road.

Video showed Nicoletti pulling down the mask of the first woman he sprayed in the face, dousing a second woman at point blank range, then spraying a man in the face several times while also shoving him to the ground.

Commissioner Danielle Outlaw and Mayor Jim Kenney described Nicoletti’s actions as unacceptable, and Outlaw said she was “disgusted.”

John McNesby, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, said that protesters had created a dangerous situation by entering the highway, and that the union would defend Nicoletti as the department’s disciplinary process played out.

In a statement Wednesday morning, McNesby said the union would also defend Nicoletti in court. And McNesby said Krasner — a frequent foe — “refuses to hold unlawful protesters accountable.”

“His top priority is to push his anti-police agenda,” the union president said. “This double standard of justice is unacceptable to our brave police officers who work tirelessly to keep our city safe.”

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