Philadelphia’s police union has started its fight to reinstate Lt. Jonathan Josey, the 19-year department veteran who was fired after he was caught on video striking a woman following last year’s Puerto Rican Day Parade.
Since a Philadelphia judge’s ruling Tuesday that Josey is not guilty of simple assault, the Fraternal Order of Police has been at work.
“We believe that his actions were completely justified,” said John McGrody, vice president of the FOP. “It just goes to show that sometimes police work isn’t pretty, but it’s actually correct — what he did and the method in which he did it to disarm that individual.”
That individual, Aida Guzman, has said through her attorney that she intends to file a civil suit against Josey for damages for the injuries she sustained.
Judge Patrick Dugan, who heard the criminal case, said he was troubled by what the “viral” video of the incident captured. But he said there was more going on than the video revealed.
Josey now is eligible to be reinstated, but an arbitration hearing is more likely to occur, McGrody said. It’s a process that could take six months or much longer.
Kelvyn Anderson, the executive director of the city’s Police Advisory Commission — the independent organization that addresses officer misconduct complaints, agrees that Josey likely will return to duty.
Anderson says the commission does not have any concrete data, but that fired officers win most arbitration cases.
“In the public’s mind, if the commissioner takes an action, that would seem to be the end of it, but the arbitration system provides opportunity for that decision to be overturned under certain circumstances,” Anderson said.
Anderson’s organization is analyzing more than five dozen arbitration cases, looking for patterns, in hopes of improving the process.
“We believe that the officer’s due process rights are important in this and arbitration plays a role in that,” Anderson said. “We also have to figure out how to make the disciplinary system work as best it can so that those outcomes are in line with the discipline that’s been handed out.”
Put more simply, Anderson says it sends a mixed message if fired officers are routinely reinstated.