Reactions among NewsWorks readers to the acquittal of former Philadelphia Police Lt. Jonathan Josey seem generally to have fallen along two lines.
On one side: The cop didn’t deserve to be convicted, or indeed even fired. On the other side: Judge Patrick Dugan’s decision to not convict Josey of the least of possible charges is a miscarriage of justice.
You’ve got to be kidding me! People need to demonstrate against this injustice. The video is very clear! Philadelphia cops are out of control!—Lisa Miroslaw
The Latino community did not get justice, and Philadelphians did not get justice. Now it is time to make our frustration palpable.—Pedro Rodriguez
I wouldn’t want him back on the force! … He’s not someone I want my grandkids 2 go 2 in time of help!—Lee Ocasio
It is impossible to comment on this story without using expletives aimed at the individual who struck this woman. One can only hope that her impending civil suit robs this “criminal-cop” of every last cent he will ever earn.
It is tormenting to know that the city will spend my tax dollars on this barbarian’s salary & pension.—Zampo
Those who support Josey seem sympathetic to the dangers associated with police work and seem willing to cut him a break.
If u truly knew him u’d want him back on those streets!!! You just don’t know!!!—Kristine Gillespie-Amato
He made a mistake, but look at what he did two weeks previous to the incident… handled a drunk driving call which took police all through the city and ended on Columbus Blvd, with perfection. Let him have his job back.—Kevin H
She wasn’t totally innocent.—Bonnie Taber-Steczynski
One reader, after describing a brutal encounter she and her father had with a cop, suggests that Philadelphia police are not prepared for the conditions that lead to cases like these.
Bottom line, not enough resources go into training these officers. You’re going to tell me that a six month police academy is enough time? Please. —Stephanie Zeppenfelt
Why no video evidence?
One reader thoughtfully questioned Dugan’s decision to throw out video evidence against Josey and laments the effect the case will have on community relations.
It is interesting to me that the City of Philadelphia Police are proactively looking for ways to increase their access to video cameras around the city […] all in the name of aiding good police work. Yet, when a camera is utilized to depict the deplorable, unprofessional demeanor of one of their own all of a sudden the utilization of video is not a viable means of conviction. […]
[Lt. Josey] is a black eye to every professional and invested officer on the force. He hurts their credability and hampers their ability to do their jobs because his actions continue to feed the innate mistrust Philadelphians have with their police force. […] If the FOP wants to truly protect the rights and stature of its members it needs to hold to them a higher standard, not a lower or parallel standard. Their job is to not only enforce the law but to “model” the law and demonstrate that law enforcement is a profession of service and integrity.
LT Josey was not only a police officer and a servant of this community but he is a “white shirt,” a symbol of leadership and utmost professionalism on the force. If we look at the video we see a professional in apparent peak physcal shape, armed, and surrounded by subordinates. When he turned around to gauge the situation he undoubtedly realized this woman, though annoying and unruly, was no physical threat to him. A simple extension of his arm and grabbing her from the back of the shirt or simply standing face to face with her would have intimidated her enough to get to the bottom of the event. His actions were excessive and he should not be reinstated for the sake of fellow officers and the community at large.—Veteran
This question of the video, to me, is the crux of this story. Many of the comments against Dugan’s decision point to the video: It is clear that Jonathan Josey strikes Aida Guzman. But in a court of law, if that evidence is thrown out, it cannot be considered in the judge’s deliberation. Pointing to the video now is a fruitless protest. For the court’s purpose, it doesn’t exist.
It seems better to ask: Why was the video tossed aside? By what rule was it deemed inadmissable? Understanding that reasoning is critical, because it seems that if it were admissable, the case might have concluded differently.
A ‘deeper issue,’ perhaps
One member of the Philadelphia Puerto Rican community took an introspective approach in a comment on this site. She describes a dangerous and chaotic situation on the day of the incident and questions the judgment of the rowdier members of her community.
Instead of protesting the ruling, why don’t we look at the deeper issue? There’s much more going on here than people want to admit. I was in the area myself. […] Come on folks! Admit it. Be truthful. It was dangerous.
Being proud of your culture is fine. Be proud. Celebrate. No one can take that away from you/us. However, people were burning rubber against the road, and huge amounts of smoke were developing in the air, in the streets. […] The streets were blocked with tons of cars, to the point where you can’t move at all. […] Horns were honking, music was blasting everywhere, not playing, blasting, and many were out of control. Celebration? Not.
Do you see our Dominican brothers doing this on their day? Do you see any of our other Hispanic groups doing this? No, just us puertorriqueños. Why? ¡Pregúntate por qué!
Why are our streets barricaded and blocked off for miles and miles in North Philadelphia? Ask yourselves seriously why. We’re barricaded because that says that our behavior is inappropriate, that it’s out control. No, the striking of an innocent woman during this uproar did not and does not justify the means to do this. It’s the result of a bigger problem here.
[…] I’m not better than anyone, but I know what being Puerto Rican is. And it’s not what I see there. My car almost got hit twice by people were out of control in their cars. That’s not the way to celebrate who we are. Instead, let’s improve ourselves, our community. Let’s strive to have a dignified celebration. Let’s motive our young people to be productive, hard-working, examples of who we really are – a proud hard-working community.—s_t
Surely there is blame enough to go around. Maybe it’s a failure of good standards of behavior on all sides of the story.
The court of public opinion is no less chaotic than the crowd from which Guzman was plucked and arrested. Trial by Twitter will yield justice no better than a court of law, but it is important to question the case and to learn what we can from it.