A former police officer with the Petaluma Police Department in Northern California will go to court on Nov. 4 to stand trial on charges of assaulting a woman during a Black Lives Matter protest last July. Per The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, Sonoma County prosecutors have announced two misdemeanor charges of battery and assault by a police officer against Lance Novello. They allege that the protester he assaulted was Elizabeth Cole, a Black student at Santa Rosa Junior College. Cole told The Press-Democrat she was not ready to talk about the incident, but that she is glad the case is seeing the light of day.
Immediately after the incident, the police department’s chief said, Novello was placed on paid administrative leave. Two days after charges were filed last October, he retired from the force. The Petaluma Police Department hired Novello in 2001. Called a “true crime fighter,” he was named the city’s Officer of the Year in 2016. In addition to jail time and a hefty fine he now faces, Novello could lose the right to bear arms if convicted.