An off-duty police officer foiled a burglary in August of 2019 but may lose his badge for “an egregious violation” of the department’s use-of-force policy.
Officer Noble Williams, who lives in Hyde Park in Chicago, was watching TV when he heard a sound that sounded like a burglar on the third floor. Williams found Bryant Nocentilli, who had been previously charged with two burglaries. He was trying to steal a television.
Williams, who armed himself prior to leaving his apartment engaged the thief and fought him in a fight which ended up going through the hall and down several stairs. Williams fired two shots during the struggle. Nocentilli was only slightly injured by the bullet that grazed his head.
The thief was able to stand up and flee. Williams called 911 while Nocentilli fled. He was arrested one month later, and charged with resisting an officer and burglary.
Nocentilli said he didn’t try to break into the apartment, and that Williams was after him “for nothing.” According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Williams shot him while standing on the stairwell above him.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability believed Nocentilli, even though the thief failed to seek medical attention after being shot, despite Williams’s prosecutor not filing any charges, and despite Williams refusing to be punished by the Police Board.
COPA recommended Williams be terminated because Nocentilli did not “pose an immediate threat” to Williams whose “decision of using deadly force was objectively unreasonable.”
In a February 2022 letter to COPA, the former Police Supt. David Brown insisted that the shooting was consistent with department policy, and the officer should not be charged. Williams, he said, should be only reprimanded because of the ammunition violation.
Williams’ attorney Tim Grace said that his client “tried being the police” after he was “put in a situation where it was believed that he would have to discharge his firearm because of how aggressive he was.”
Grace said, “To me, this is a valid use of force.” She criticized COPA, saying the agency had tried to terminate cops in vain for violations that “were not something that police officers should have been terminated for at all.”
COPA was formed because of the widespread belief among activists — ACLU and NAACP — the police couldn’t police themselves, and that civilian oversight was necessary.
If this was the true goal of COPA it would have given minorities the assurance that the police are not above the laws. COPA has been hijacked instead by anti-police extremists who have hamstrung the police and made them fear termination for doing their job.
Williams made a few mistakes. Williams failed to call 911 promptly, and his firearm was loaded with different types of ammunition. This is a serious offense but one that does not warrant termination. COPA says officers should assume that they are not in danger until they see an object.
Next week, the police board will make a decision about Williams’ fate.