A Philadelphia police officer has been arrested and charged with aggravated assault after a video surfaced showing the man allegedly beating a 21-year-old Temple University student during recent protests, District Attorney Larry Krasner’s office announced Friday.
Police Staff Inspector Joseph Bologna, a 30-year veteran of the department, was also charged with reckless endangerment and possession of an instrument of crime. He has been removed from street duty pending an investigation, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said.
Video footage appears to show Bologna hitting the student in the head and neck with a baton. The student was knocked to the ground and another officer put his knee on him to keep the student down, the Associated Press reported.
Jonathan Feinberg, an attorney representing the protester, Evan Gorski, said that the engineering student was at home recovering from his injuries after being in custody for more than 24 hours earlier this week, NBC Philadelphia reported.
Gorski needed 10 staples and 10 stitches to treat a large head wound, according to Krasner’s office.
“Cellphone video captured Inspector Bologna using an ASP (a collapsible metal police baton) to strike the Temple University student in the back of his head while he was participating in a mass demonstration against racism and injustice in the area of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway,” Krasner said in a statement.
“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,” the district attorney added.
Outlaw said the police department was reviewing videos that showed officers in other violent confrontations with people protesting the death of George Floyd, who died while in Minneapolis police custody last week.
“I am deeply concerned about this, and as a result I have initiated several concurrent internal affairs investigations,” Outlaw said.
John McNesby, president secretary of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, the union representing Philadelphia police, said he is “disgusted” by Bologna’s arrest.
“He was engaged in a volatile and chaotic situation with only milliseconds to make a decision,” McNesby said in a statement. “Once again, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner has rushed to judgement in filing these criminal charges without a complete and thorough investigation.”
He went on to blame the district attorney for contributing “to the destruction of our great city.”
The relationship between Krasner and the police union has been fraught from the very beginning. Krasner famously sued the Philadelphia police department more than 70 times before becoming district attorney.
Before Krasner was elected to office in 2017, McNesby warned that Krasner’s tenure would create a “rough road” for police officers because the former civil rights lawyer “sent the message early in his career that he’s anti-law enforcement.”