Former Philadelphia Police Lt. Jonathan Josey has been charged with simple assault for punching a woman on videotape weeks after the incident cost him his job.
Josey, 40, is expected to surrender to police Friday with his attorney to face the misdemeanor charge in the Sept. 30 incident, which was captured on a cell phone camera and went viral on YouTube. In the video, Josey is seen punching Aida Guzman, 39, as she walked away from a group of officers during a rowdy celebration at Fifth and Lehigh following the Annual Puerto Rican Day Parade.
District Attorney Seth Williams said he made the decision after carefully reviewing the investigation by Police Internal Affairs and determining that Josey’s use of force was unnecessary.
“We give police officers handguns, we give them batons. They are allowed to use force when force is necessary, when force is appropriate, when force is justified.” Williams said during a press conference. “It’s only after an evaluation of that that I ultimately determine that the use of force was not necessary in that circumstance.”
Williams said Guzman may have sprayed silly string at police, and that officers had warned her to back up, adding that “reasonable people can conclude her behavior was inappropriate.”
“It’s just my determination that [Josey’s] reaction went beyond the scope he was allowed to use,” he said.
Josey’s attorney, Fortunato Perri Jr., said his client intended to vigorously fight the charges.
“We look forward to the opportunity to presenting the entire case in a courtroom, not just a snippet that’s gone viral,” Perri said, noting that Josey hopes to get his job back.
The Fraternal Order of Police has defended Josey and implied that Williams caved in to political pressure, which Williams strongly denied.
“I didn’t cave in to anyone, probably the exact opposite,” Williams responded. “The only pressure I received was pressure to not charge him.”
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey suspended Josey, a 19-year veteran of the force, with the intent to dismiss on Oct. 4.
The misdemeanor charges against Josey carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison, but Williams acknowledged that jail time was unlikely.
Disorderly conduct charges against Guzman were dropped last month.