PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia police staff inspector facing aggravated assault charges for hitting a protester with a collapsible baton last week turned himself in on Monday morning. The commander of the department’s bicycle unit said nothing while on his way to surrender to aggravated assault and other charges.
Joseph Bologna’s now-viral interaction with a protester last week landed the high-ranking police official in hot water.
On Friday, the district attorney’s office pledged to press charges, calling the baton maneuver seen in the video a criminal act which called for a “swift” and “evenhanded response.”
As the legal process begins for Bologna, his lawyers released the following statement concerning aggravated assault charges filed against their client after the now well-circulated interaction with a protester:
“In the midst of this deadly pandemic, Inspector Bologna and his fellow officers were spit on, sprayed with urine and other chemicals as well as verbally and physically assaulted. His use of force to apprehend an individual, who was trying to thwart a lawful arrest during a melee, was lawful and justified,” attorney Fortunato Perri said.
FOP leaders responded, quickly condemning the DA’s filing of charges, arguing Bologna is among the most dedicated of officers on the force.
Bologna has been a member of the force for 30-plus years.
BREAKING: Large crowd turns out to support Phila. Police Staff Inspector Joseph Bologna, who’s surrendering this morning for arraignment on an aggravated assault count. Video last shows the commander hitting a protester with his collapsible baton. @CBSPhilly pic.twitter.com/9r3yFQlq2C
— Joe Holden (@JoeHoldenCBS3) June 8, 2020
The video provided to Eyewitness News depicts Bologna striking a 21-year-old Temple University student, identified as Evan Gorski, with a baton and arresting him Monday during protests near the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Center City.
Prosecutors say Gorski’s head wound required about 10 staples and 10 sutures.
“That is one. We have been receiving several videos with disturbing images,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said.
The charges initially filed against Gorski have been dropped.
Meanwhile, Bologna’s attorneys say leading up to the baton incident, the police commander had worked several consecutive 15-hour shifts.
The police department launched a separate internal investigation — sources with direct knowledge of the case tell CBS3 it is not immediately conclusive if Bologna’s baton made contact with the head.
The department confirms when utilizing a collapsible baton, an officer is limited to areas of the body including the shoulders and legs.
— Trang Do (@TrangDoCBS3) June 8, 2020
Bologna will be charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and other related charges.
“We are trying to be fair. Accountability has to be equal. This moment demands a swift and evenhanded response to violent and criminal acts based on the facts and evidence,” District Attorney Larry Krasner said. “Americans are taking to the streets to demand a remaking of political, economic and legal systems that serve the powerful at the expense of citizens’ health, welfare, and lives. There can be no safety or peace without justice. My office will continue to hold people who cause harm to others equally accountable.”
CBS3’s Joe Holden contributed to this report.