A former Philadelphia Police officer has been acquitted in a criminal case, but his time in court is not over.
Former Police Lt. Jonathan Josey was cleared of simple assault charges in the striking of Aida Guzman following last year’s Puerto Rican Day Parade. Her attorney Enrique Latoison says Guzman will seek damages from the incident.
“We will be filing a civil suit and I will be the one cross examining Josey on the next occasion for a civil Jury who will have the opportunity to hear this case, instead of it just being heard by one person,” said Latoison.
Judge troubled by “viral” reaction
Judge Patrick Dugan heard the criminal case.
In delivering his ruling, he said he was troubled by what the “viral” video of the incident captured but Dugan said that there was more going on than the video revealed. He said it was an escalating situation and cited Josey’s testimony that he struck Guzman by accident while trying to get a bottle out of her hand.
Latoison says the verdict is insulting to his client.
“We’re actually very outraged and believe a complete injustice was done to Ms. Guzman. It’s a complete disrespect to Ms. Guzman,” he said. “If you can get away with punching someone in the face on video, what can you get away with off video?”
District Attorney Seth Williams issued a statement that he respects but disagrees with the verdict (PDF).
It’s likely Josey will ask to get his job back. A spokesperson for the Philadelphia Police says that would be subject to an arbitration hearing.
Update: Councilwoman reacts to decision
Seventh District City Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez, who helped organize the parade after which the incident occurred, told NewsWorks on Tuesday afternoon that she was “not surprised, but extremely disappointed” with the decision.
She noted that, earlier in the process, she asked “the community to remain calm and wait for the justice system to play itself out.” Now that it has, “I share in their frustration that justice was not served,” she said.
“I’m further outraged by [Dugan] who, according to witnesses, chastised the community, quite generally accusing folks of being gun-carrying alcoholics and drug dealers,” she said. “He once worked in the seventh council district and is well aware of the changes going on here. There are many good people in the area who don’t deserve that.”
Having asked the community to avoid lashing out in outrage — as it would further add to misconceptions from the outside — she said meetings will be held to discuss “preventive measures” to avoid another incident of that nature.
“As someone who works everyday with police department, to build relationships between the police and the community, this sets me back tremendously,” she said.