Judge Patrick Dugan found former Philadelphia police Lt. Jonathan Josey not guilty of simple assault today during a non-jury trial. Josey was dismissed from the police force in October after he was recorded on a cell phone camera striking 39-year-old Chester woman Aida Guzman in the face. District Attorney Seth Williams charged Josey the next month.
"I respect Judge Dugan’s decision, but I disagree with it," Williams said in a statement responding to today's ruling. "Let’s be clear there were no winners on that day in September."
The video, which was shot on Sept. 30 during a Puerto Rican Day Parade celebration at 5th Street and Lehigh Avenue, was uploaded to YouTube and quickly went viral. Prosecutors said Josey was investigating a car that was creating hazardous roadway conditions when he punched the woman.
Josey claimed before the court that he accidentally struck Guzman while trying to swat from her hand a beer bottle she allegedly refused to put down. Guzman was originally charged with disorderly conduct for the incident. Those charges were soon dropped and Mayor Michael Nutter issued the woman an apology.
Nutter said during a news conference in October that he was "ashamed" and "sickened" by the behavior Josey showed on tape. "The conduct seen on this video is particularly appalling and not the kind of conduct the Philadelphia Police Department expects from anyone, especially anyone in a supervisory position," he said. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said the video "deeply troubled" him. "From what I saw, it's difficult to justify the actions that took place," he said.
Josey will reportedly attempt to get his job back following today's ruling. "While I believe Jonathan Josey was guilty of simple assault, this is not the time to dwell on that and I hope as a community we can move past this," Williams said.
"As I said three months ago when Jonathan Josey was arrested, my job as District Attorney is to ensure that we only charge the right people with only the correct charges – nothing more, nothing less. It doesn’t matter if you are a doctor, lawyer, Monsignor of a church, police officer or bus driver – justice demands that we apply our laws fairly. Ultimately, the final decision was in Judge Dugan’s hands and I respect his ruling."