When 36-year-old Jeffrey Dennis was gunned down by an undercover Philadelphia officer in August, his family desperately hoped criminal charges would be issued against the man responsible. On Tuesday, they were devastated to learn the officer who took Dennis’ life will not face charges.
State Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Officer Richard Nicoletti, a 29-year veteran assigned to the Narcotics Field Unit, will not face prosecution in the death of Dennis, reported Philly News.
"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."
After the shooting, Nicoletti was placed on desk duty. Although the AG has concluded the investigation, the police department also released a statement indicating that it has an ongoing investigation into the shooting.
"There remain phases of the Police Department's internal review process that have not yet been completed," the statement read. "We will provide additional comment as those phases move toward completion."
Dennis, who was a father of three children, was shot when officers planned to raid his home for drugs. When they arrived to the location, they saw Dennis attempting to drive away in a Camry.
In a surveillance video released Tuesday, two unmarked police cars were seen blocking Dennis’ car. At one point, Dennis tried to ram into one of the cars and flee, which resulted in five plainclothes officers rushing his car with guns drawn.
Another undercover officer was seen shattering the driver’s side window with a long-handled hammer. When Dennis attempted to turn his car around for the last time, Nicoletti shot into the car at near-point-blank range. Dennis was pronounced dead just minutes later.
Although police Department policy prohibits the discharge of shots into a moving vehicle and shooting "to subdue a fleeing individual who presents no immediate threat of death or serious physical injury to themselves or another person,” Shapiro said violations of police procedures do not always result in 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.
(Photo: Handout via Lee Merritt Law Firm)