Late yesterday, the Philadelphia Police Department announced that Jonathan Josey, the cop seen decking a woman in the face in a now-viral YouTube video, will be fired.
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey announced Wednesday that, effective Thursday, Josey, 40, a 19-year veteran Highway Patrolman, will lose his job.Ramsey made this move under his power to take "direct action" against any cop whom he feels has violated the law or departmental policy. In looking at the video (sorry, embedding's been disabled), it's hard not to agree. By my count, Josey took six steps before punching a defenseless woman from behind. In what world would a cop be able to do that and stay employed?
Technically, he'll be suspended for 30 days with intent to dismiss, for his now-infamous punching of Aida Guzman, 39, during a celebration Sunday at 5th Street and Lehigh Avenue after the city's annual Puerto Rican Day Parade.
"I watched the video over and over again, and I also listened to the interviews the complainant gave the media," Ramsey said. "Looking at everything, it was my sense that this was a very serious violation of department policy and that the force used was not the force necessary to effect an arrest."
He said his decision to ax Josey - who ran a violence-prevention program in his spare time and was cited by the Citizens Crime Commission of Delaware Valley for bravery in 2010 after interrupting an armed robbery and shooting the perpetrator - was difficult.
"He has served for a long time and he's done a lot of outstanding things," the commissioner said. "But this is a violation of trust and abuse of authority, and it cannot be ignored."
The Philadelphia DA has dropped charges of disorderly conduct against Guzman, and she also got a personal apology from Mayor Michael Nutter. She's still weighing whether to sue.
Losing his job may be the least of Josey's problems. Ramsey has also said that Josey may face criminal charges. If I were the DA up there, I'd definitely prosecute. If a regular citizen did this, it would be felonious assault.
In what can only be described as a tone-deaf stance, the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police is raising a stink over the firing.
John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, called Ramsey's decision to terminate Josey a "bad move."McNesby doubled down later that day, saying that theFOP was "going to war over this one." It's going to be a war he'll likely lose. If Josey just turned around and swung, maybe I could see an argument that he was reacting like anyone would after being attacked from behind. But taking six steps before punching someone? Come on.
"It's a ready-fire-aim approach. The investigation's not even complete, the ink's not even dry, and they're gonna fire him?" McNesby asked. "It sends a bad message to cops on the street: 'Be careful out there, because the city may not have your back.' "
Let's hope the next step is indeed criminal charges for Josey.