Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey got off a plane from San Diego around 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, went home to get his uniform on and then headed over to the 14th Police District headquarters in Germantown to answer questions from the assembled media.
Specifically, he was asked about the viral video he saw on his laptop while across the country at that International Conference for Police & Law Enforcement Executives conference.
In it, Lt. Jonathan Josey twice punches a woman after the Philadelphia Puerto Rican Day parade, a recording that has prompted an internal investigation and external cries of police brutality.
Let the investigation take its course
Labeling what he saw as “obviously troubling,” Ramsey cautioned against taking action before that internal investigation was complete, but that he expected that probe would be conducted properly, and in a timely manner.
“From what I saw, which is just the video, it’s difficult to justify the actions” and use of force, said Ramsey, inside the Haines Street police station around 6:30 p.m. “This will get wrapped up as quickly as possible.”
Ramsey said he had not yet seen any reports from interviews connected to the weekend incident, did not know what activities preceded the punches shown on video and that police investigators had been told earlier in the day that victim Aida Guzman would not be talking to them.
“We don’t have all the facts. I have not read the file yet. I’ve seen the video, but that’s just part of the story,” Ramsey said, noting that it is “her right not to speak with us.”
He noted that they may have to rely on interviews that Guzman had given to media outlets in their investigation and asked reporters at the press conference to mention that police wanted to speak with her should they interview her again.
Internal Affairs reported that they have not gotten a substantial number of calls with people sharing information either.
Asked about Josey’s 19-year career, he noted that ranking officers should be held to a higher standard.
“We should be role models and examples for the officers who work under us,” he said, worrying about outlier incidents like this painting the whole department with a broad brush. “With a higher rank comes more responsibility.”
Ramsey also said that he knows the accused officer.
“Personally, I like him and have respect for him,” he said. “But that will not influence my decision (about possible sanctions up to and including dismissal) one bit.”
A timeline for the investigation was not offered Tuesday night.