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Cop found not guilty of assault despite video proof

Published time: February 27, 2013 18:19
screenshot from youtube video by user Lrjtv

screenshot from youtube video by user Lrjtv

A former police officer fired for hitting a woman in the face says he wants his job back after a judge acquitted him this week of charges related to the beating.

Municipal Judge Patrick Dugan ruled on Tuesday that Jonathan Josey, an ex-cop let go from the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania police department last year, is not guilty of assault. Josey, a 19-year veteran of the force, was fired over the incident, which was video recorded on a camera phone and quickly spread virally on the Internet.

Judge Dugan says he was “troubled” by the footage, but refused to let the clip be introduced into the court as evidence because it failed to accurately depict a chaotic and volatile scene.

“This is not a social-media contest; this is not a trial by video,” he said in the courtroom, according to The Philadelphia Daily News. “This was a violent, fast-paced, real-life situation.”

In the video clip, Josey is seen approaching 39-year-old Aida Guzman during Philly’s annual Puerto Rican Day parade and slugging her with a right hook to the face. Josey said he did not intentionally strike the woman, who was left bloodied in the incident, and was simply trying to knock a beer bottle from her hand. The video, said Judge Dugan, “didn’t tell the whole story.”

"We were confident all along that once we had the opportunity to present the facts and circumstances of the incident in a courtroom, as opposed to the court of social media, that Jonathan Josey would be vindicated," defense lawyer Fortunato Perri Jr. tells a local NBC affiliate.

Attorneys for the plaintiff disagree, though, and say they may file civil charges against the officer.

“It’s obvious from looking at the video that this was an intentional act,” Guzman's attorney Enrique Latoison tells CBS Philly. “The officer took three steps towards my client and then slugged her in the face.”

Latoison tells reporters that he plans to speak with US Justice Department officials in hopes having federal civil-rights charges lobbed against the defendant. Of concern, the attorney said, is how willing the court was to dismiss video footage of the incident.

"Understand, if this can take place on camera, ask yourself, what could take place off of camera?" Latoison said. He also took issue with Josey’s defense, in which the officer described the entire altercation as unintentional. After striking Guzman, though, the officer reportedly put his elbow forcibly in her back and cuffed her so tightly that her wrists were bruised as a result.

“If you… accidentally hit someone and you were repentant and dropped to your knees, you are immediately going to act in a way to show that you’re sorry, to show that you’re remorseful, to show that it’s an accident,” Latoison adds to CBS.

Charges against Guzman were dropped after the assault and the mayor of Philadelphia later issued a public apology. Now that the officer is off the hook, though, Josey says he wishes to rejoin the police department that he served on for nearly two decades.

"Being a cop in this city is something I've wanted to do since I was 5 years old," Josey told reporters. "I had nothing else that I wanted to do. So, getting back to doing what I do best . . . is what I'm looking forward to."

“I'm sure Jon Josey is looking forward to getting back to work and doing what he does best, which is to protect and serve the people of Philadelphia," his attorney added.

In the wake of the news, Latoison tells NBC news that his client “feels like she got beat on again,”

"What took place today is an injustice to Miss Guzman, it was an injustice to the Puerto Rican and Spanish community," he told WPCI News. "The Spanish community was portrayed as being scary, lawless, people that were creating a mob situation."

District Attorney Seth Williams has issued a statement saying that he respects the judge’s ruling but does not agree with it. Josey had previously landed in hot water after he shot and killed a man attempting to rob a convenience store while off duty in 2010. He was exonerated in that case.

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