PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office announced on Friday the office is filing aggravated assault and related charges against a Philadelphia police officer for an incident involving a student who was protesting and was struck with a metal baton.
Video capturing the incident shows Staff Inspector Joseph Bologna allegedly striking the Temple University student with a collapsible metal police baton in the back of his head as he was protesting Monday in the area of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
“We were sent paperwork subjecting we should charge a young man with pretty serious crimes, and fortunately, we had civilian video at the same time,” District Attorney Larry Krasner said.
Krasner said upon carefully reviewing the video and other evidence, they declined to charge the student.
“What we noticed though was there did seemed to be violence and criminal activity on the video but it was committed by a police officer. And worse yet, committed by a white shirt, meaning a higher level police officer, in front of the blue shirt, meaning the lower ranking officers. Almost as if it was a statement being made to the lower ranking officers,” Krasner added.
The DA’s office said the student suffered serious bodily injury and needed approximately 10 staples and 10 sutures.
The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 issued a statement saying they are “disgusted” to learn of the arrest of Bologna, and that he “was engaged in a volatile and chaotic situation with only milliseconds to make a decision.”
“This was done with zero investigation by the district attorney’s office. I mean zero. So he’s under arrest. He’s been out there since day one of this and out there protecting businesses, communities, and protestors, and this is what they do to him,” Philadelphia FOP President John McNesby told KYW Newsradio.
However, Krasner said they have to hold everyone accountable.
“After a few days of doing more research and getting more information and frankly, seeing more videos and more videos of the same police officer in the same white shirt, we came to the conclusion that this was criminal conduct, and if we were in any way legitimate that we would have to hold him accountable like anybody else,” Krasner said.
On Friday afternoon, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said there are several Internal Affairs investigations underway on videos and reports about officers' use of force.
And in a statement, Outlaw said, “As a Department, we do not condone the criminal acts of any person, and it is my sincere hope that the District Attorney does, in fact, hold all people who cause harm to others equally accountable. To be clear, the District Attorney’s decision to charge Staff Inspector Bologna does not diminish or detract from the efforts of our many officers who have worked tirelessly for extended hours and under tense and stressful conditions.”