Philadelphia, PA — The former police lieutenant who punched a woman in the face during the city’s Puerto Rican Day Parade was this morning found not guilty of simple assault.
The video of Jonathan Josey hitting the woman was posted on YouTube and quickly went viral last October. The video of the September 30 incident shows Josey punching Aida Guzman in the face, knocking her down, and then handcuffing her. She is then led away by two other officers while her face is bleeding. Disorderly conduct charges against Guzman were later dropped. Josey, a 19-year highly decorated officer, was first suspended and then fired.
In a bench trial (i.e., a non-jury trial) today, Judge Patrick F. Dugan admitted he was troubled by Lt. Josey’s conduct. However, there were additional circumstances that went into the judge’s not guilty finding according to the Philadelphia Inquirer:
“Dugan, however, cited Josey’s testimony that [he] … was trying to swipe a beer bottle from Guzman’s hand and accidentally hit her. Josey said he acted in the context of an escalating melee in which some spectators were throwing beer bottles at police trying to arrest a driver doing ‘donuts’ in the middle of the intersection …
” ‘This is not a social media contest, this is not trial by video.’ “
Officers who packed the courtroom cheered when the decision was announced. Josey said afterwards that he will try to get his police job back, and the union has apparently indicated it will assist him in seeking reinstatement, according to CBS News.
Josey, who was the former commander of the Philadelphia police force’s highway division, may not be completely out of the woods legally: Guzman’s lawyer reportedly plans to sue Josey in civil court for personal injury, and he also may file a civil rights complaints with the US Justice Department.
Judge Dugan conducted the trial on February 12 (see second video below) and at that time said he would release his ruling today.