PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — Charges have been dismissed against a Philadelphia police officer who was accused of striking a Temple University student during a George Floyd protest last summer. A municipal court judge dismissed simple assault and other charges against Staff Inspector Joseph Bologna, who was accused of striking the student in the head with a metal police baton in early June during protests on the Ben Franklin Parkway.
Bologna, 54, was suspended after a video showed him hitting the protester last June. But a judge ruled Friday that prosecutors had not presented enough evidence to establish that Bologna’s use of his baton amounted to a crime.
“This is really a great victory for those people like Inspector Bologna, who risked their lives for strangers, which is what he was doing,” attorney Brian McMonagle said outside court after the counts were dismissed. “This destruction of his life and his career should have never occurred. And we’re just happy today that justice was done for him and his family.”
Bologna, a 30-year member of the force, left the courthouse without commenting. Police officials had suspended him with intent to dismiss, but his attorneys said Friday that he now has the option to seek full reinstatement. He has not yet decided.
“Justice must be applied equally and in an even-handed manner,” District Attorney Larry Krasner said in a statement issued Friday. “No one is above the law. We fully intend to pursue this case to a just conclusion.”
Bologna’s attorney had earlier said his actions justified because the protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis had turned violent.
Authorities have said the protester’s injuries required staples and stitches. He was initially arrested but was later released, and charges against him were dropped.
This evening, Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby said the judge made the right call.
“Inspector Bologna did his job, he did it well. He protected the community, he protected himself and he protected the officers that were under him. He did exactly what he was trained to do and that showed today. Anybody that took a look at that video, no matter when it was, would’ve seen that there should’ve been no charges levied against Inspector Bologna. Here we had a DA that was looking to grab national headlines at a time when we had unrest here in the city,” McNesby said.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner released a statement on the dismissal of the charges, saying “Justice must be applied equally and in an even-handed manner. No one is above the law. We fully intend to pursue this case to a just conclusion.”
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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