Deliberations continue Monday in trial of former SWAT officer charged for pepper spraying protesters on I-676

Deliberations in the trial of Richard Nicoletti, a former Philadelphia SWAT officer who was captured on video pepper spraying protesters from close range during the 2020 George Floyd unrest, will continue with an 11 member jury panel on Monday.

Nicoletti is facing charges of possession of an instrument of crime, three counts of simple assault, reckless endangerment, and official oppression. 

A video of Nicoletti dressed in riot gear approaching three protesters kneeling on Interstate 676 on June 1, 2020, pulling down at least one protester's mask or goggles, then pepper-spraying them, was circulated widely on social media and was included in several news stories about the national police response to demonstrations.

The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office alleged that Nicoletti assaulted the protesters nearly three years ago. His defense, meanwhile, claims the disgraced officer was doing his job. 

Closing arguments in the trial were made on Thursday, after which a jury began its deliberation. Those deliberations will continue into next week after the jury failed to reach a decision on Friday. 

The jury twice returned to the courtroom on Friday without a decision, despite a judge providing them with further instructions to try to motivate the jury to work together to reach a consensus. 

One juror was excused for personal reasons during deliberations, and was replaced with an alternate after each jury member was questioned.

Prosecutors requested for a 12 pannel juror, but the remaining two alternatives were unavailable due to an auto accident and a medical appointment. Both sides agreed to move on with an 11 member pannel. 

Nicoletti's defense claimed that he did not break the law and was only acting on the orders of his superiors on the police force during the tumultuous incident on I-676. A Pennsylvania State Police Officer who took the stand on Wednesday told jurors that SWAT officers, including Nicoletti, protected him from an angry crowd.

Christina Sorenson, one of the protesters pepper sprayed by Nicoletti, took the stand for the prosecution on Wednesday. She told the jury after she was pepper sprayed she "lost all sense of herself, crying and screaming for help."