Too bad for now fired Philadelphia Police Lieutenant Jonathan Josey that he punched a Puerto Rican woman in public instead of secretly pilfering federal funds earmarked for the poor.
Had Josey merely stolen from the poor instead of smashing a much smaller woman, he’d probably still have his Philadelphia Police Department job – like a group of PPD employees caught stealing.
And, had Josey, a 19-year PPD veteran, pilfered instead of punched he probably would not now face that criminal charge lodged against him last week by the District Attorney’s Office.
The DA’s Office hasn’t charged those PPD employees caught stealing.
Josey is the African-American (former) police supervisor caught on cell phone video punching a woman who Josey didn’t personally see committing any crime.
That viral video added more incriminating evidence to the brutality-stained image of the Philadelphia Police Department.
This video shows Aida Guzman walking away with her back turned to Josey when he quickly spun around, stepped toward Guzman and smashed her in the face during a parade at the end of September.
The prima facie evidence of Josey’s attack on that video seemingly shows an excessive use of force by a policeman which is illegal — irrespective of Guzman’s alleged provocation which police initially claimed was her either shouting or using harmless Silly String.
Too bad for Josey that video captured his “enforcement act,” thus eroding his ability to convince police investigators that he didn’t do what evidence showed he did.
This ex-police supervisor has a record of over a dozen citizen complaints — many claiming physical abuse — which police previously dismissed as unsubstantiated.
Too many in police work see citizen complaints as a “badge of honor” proving that they are “aggressive” in doing their jobs properly.
While Josey's [alleged] September assault made headlines, Philadelphia Police Department officials hid their quiet discipline of seven department employees caught stealing funds from a low-income energy assistance program.
That gang of seven PPD employees, including a staff member of a Deputy Police Commissioner, admitted fraudulently obtaining cash grants established to assist low-income residents to pay their utility bills.
Although those thieves admitted their crimes when confronted by police investigators, Police Department officials refused to discharge or criminally charge any of those thieves, opting instead for wrist-slap suspensions ranging from three to fifteen days.
So far, the DA’s Office hasn’t filed any charges for that criminal theft from the poor and taxpayers funding that federal program.
However, the DA’s Office said it “does not comment” on its investigations when declining a request to comment on whether that office plans charges or is just following the PPD lead of sweeping that stolen funds matter under the proverbial rug.
Adding insult to the injury of stealing from the poor, one of those seven PPD employees receiving internal discipline is a detective lieutenant who earned $94,000 last year according to city records.
Last week Philly prosecutors hit Jonathan Josey with a simple assault charge for his attack on Aida Guzman…an assault that appeared on video as more aggravated than simple.
Guzman, a Chester, Pa resident, received an immediate post-Josey pummeling when police slapped her with a disorderly conduct charge that authorities later withdrew.
Commendably, Guzman did receive an apology from Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams termed the force Josey used when confronting Guzman as “not necessary” when Williams announced the misdemeanor criminal charge against Josey last week.
Too bad Jonathan Josey couldn’t claim a proxy status with the Israeli government so he could raise a ‘right-of-self-defense’ to excuse his assault on Guzman comparable to the standard excuse Israeli officials routinely raise for their recurring use of excessive force against defenseless Palestinians living in Gaza.
DA Williams, when announcing the charge against Josey, stated what should be a self-evident truth: “It doesn’t matter if you are a doctor, lawyer, and monsignor of a church, police officer or bus driver…Justice demands that we apply our law fairly.”
While Williams is right that no one is above the law, the persistent problem is that ‘equal-justice-for-all’ mandate is ignored by individuals, organizations and nations intent on enforcing their Might-Makes-Right code.
Just like Israel having its ardent defenders Josey receives strident support from Philadelphia’s police union, the Fraternal Order of Police.
FOP President John McNesby vowed to defeat the criminal charge against Josey and get Josey restored to the PPD through the union-favoring arbitration system.
The FOP is a tenacious defender of police involved in brutality.
Rarely if ever does the FOP acknowledge that those illegal acts of brutality are both legally wrong and counter-productive to good policing that needs citizen support to succeed.
Earlier this year the FOP beat-up on the City’s Police Advisory Commission – the independent agency that monitors police conduct.
FOP Prez McNesby pounded the PAC, bashing it as “reckless [and a] direct threat to public safety.”
Since the PAC is underfunded-&-understaffed by City Hall and Police Commissioners routinely ignore its mostly mild recommendations, what caused McNesby to beat that agency like it shot a police officer?
The PAC had simply suggested that officers apologize to citizens who filed complaints.
With so many big problems in the world like debilitating recession, devastating climate change and war crimes in the Middle East, what is the big deal about a cop punching a woman?
Because downplaying small problems spark bigger problems.
Linn Washington Jr. is a graduate of the Yale Law Journalism Fellowship Program.
Since 1954, the Hero Thrill Show has been raising money for college scholarships for the children of Philadelphia’s fallen police officers and firefighters. This year, the 58th show, will be held on September 22 from noon to 5 pm at the Wells Fargo Center.
A pep rally and preview of the show was held Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 12 on Market Street, between 18th and 19th Streets, and the entire block was filled with fascinated onlookers. The crowd enjoyed the Highway Patrol Motorcycle Drill Team and the Philadelphia Police Bicycle Stunt Team, who will be among the talent on display at the Hero Thrill Show.
“Most of you expect to go home at the end of your workday,” said attorney Jimmy Binns, Hero Thrill Show Inc. president and CEO to the gathered spectators. “For a police officer or a fire fighter, they don’t know if they’re coming home at the end of the day. But they can rest in the knowledge that their children’s education will be taken care of.”
Binns said that the purpose of the Thrill Show is to raise money for the college education of the children of Philadelphia’s firefighters and police officers who die in the line of duty. Binns, who took over the running of the show in 2006, said that since that time, the show continues to put 19 children who have lost a parent through school. Widows Ann Skerski, Judy Cassidy and Michelle Liczbinski were among those who attended the pep rally.
“Their husbands lost their lives, but they rested in the security that we would take care of their children,” said Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers.
The Hero Thrill Show Inc. is not affiliated with the Hero Scholarship Fund. For years the two charities both had the same goals, and the show was produced and staged by the Hero Scholarship Fund until it cancelled the show in 2005.
“After carefully comparing revenues of the past several years, including decreases as well as the expenses and difficulty in putting on the show, it has been decided to discontinue the show,” wrote Ruth A. Silwinski, former president of the organization. She clarified her reasons in a second letter.
“The reason for our discontinuance of the show is that it was originally established as a city function and operation,” Silwinski wrote. “Since 1994, we have been forced to operate the show simply because there was no city backing. We cannot continue to lay out money necessary to fund the show each year.”
Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers and former Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson backed a new entity for the purpose of raising money for the survivors of fallen first responders. Binns, who is a longtime supporter of local law enforcement charities and programs, took over operations in 2006. The Hero Scholarship Fund still remains in business,
“He resurrected the show and gave it new life,” said Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby. “In 2005, only about three hundred people attended the show. Last year we had 40,000.”
The Hero Show was established in 1954 after 10 firefighters were killed in an explosion while battling a fire at a chemical plant in North Philadelphia. Since then, more than 800 families have benefitted from the charity’s financial aid. Some of the most recent recipients are Amber Liczbinski, daughter of slain police officer Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski, John Cassidy, whose father Police Officer Charles Cassidy was gunned down during the robbery of a Dunkin Donuts in 2007. Robert Skerski is the son of Police Officer Gary Skerski who was killed while attempting to stop the robbery of Pat’s Café in Northeast Philadelphia.
“When I grew up we knew the police officers who patrolled our neighborhood. We spoke to them and interacted with them, and we’ve gotten away from that,” said former basketball player, now WIP AM sports announcer Sonny Hill. “The next time you see a police officer or a firefighter, do me a favor, do yourself a favor and say hello to them. Thank them for all they do for us in helping to keep us safe.”
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has filed criminal charges against a former Philadelphia Police officer who was caught on camera striking a woman during a Puerto Rican Day street party.
Lt. Jonathan Josey was charged on Thursday morning with simple assault, a misdemeanor of the second degree, for the incident that happened at Fifth and Lehigh Streets. Josey was recorded on videotape as he struck 39-year-old Aida Guzman in the face. The incident happened during the investigation of a motor vehicle that was creating a hazardous condition on the street. Josey is expected to surrender to authorities today, accompanied by his attorney Fortunato Perri Jr.
“As district attorney it is my job to ensure that we only charge the right people with only the correct charges; nothing more, nothing less,” Williams said. “After an extensive investigation by both Police Internal Affairs and my Special Investigations Unit, I have determined the appropriate action in this case is to charge Mr. Josey with simple assault. As I have stated many times before 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.”
On the day in question, a witness recorded Josey hitting Guzman from behind. Williams said the crowds at Fifth and Lehigh were celebrating Puerto Rican Day along Ben Franklin Parkway. It was followed by the unlicensed street party at Fifth and Lehigh Avenue. Williams said there were people in the crowds throwing liquids at police and shooting silly string. Guzman is seen in the recording moving away from some people that had been spraying beer at the officers and it was never determined if she had a hand in that. Josey overreacted by striking her, said Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. Charges of disorderly conduct were filed against her after the incident, but were subsequently dropped.
“I’ve been involved with this since it occurred, and took the appropriate action,” Ramsey said, who suspended Josey for thirty days with intent to dismiss. “I support the DA’s decision. Officers have the legal authority to use force. We have to react in hazardous situations, but not overreact.”
Fraternal Order of Police president John McNesby said the FOP would support Josey despite the charges. Williams said that Josey’s actions were completely unnecessary.
“The officers were attempting to bring order to a hazardous situation. Internal Affairs did a very thorough and extensive investigation of this incident,” Williams said. “They really did their job, meeting with the many witnesses and various officers who were present. Ultimately, it was my decision to charge Josey. Police are authorized to use force when justified, and it was in that context that we evaluated what happened. The use of force in this case was not necessary.”
A Philadelphia police lieutenant who punched a woman during last weekend’s Puerto Rican Day Parade has been placed on 30-day suspension with the intent to dismiss, according to law enforcement officials.
On Wednesday, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey announced that he had decided to take “Commissioner’s Direct Action” against Police Lieutenant Jonathan Josey. The announcement came in response to Josey’s actions on September 30 on the 2700 block of North Fifth Street.
“Effective Thursday, October 4, 2012, Lt. Jonathan Josey will be suspended for thirty days with the intent to dismiss,” Ramsey said in a press release. A direct action dismissal can be initiated if the commissioner believes that an officer violated the law or department policy. Josey, 40, is a 19-year decorated veteran officer and is a member of the Highway Patrol unit.
According to investigators, on Sept. 30, Josey was present with other officers during the city’s annual Puerto Rican Day parade. A brief video taken during the event showed someone throwing some kind of liquid toward the officers. Among those in the crowd was Aida Guzman, 39, who is seen spraying something from a can. A few seconds later, Josey is seen walking up from behind Guzman and striking her. She fell to the ground and was subsequently led away in handcuffs and charged with disorderly conduct. The charges were later dropped by the District Attorney’s Office. Guzman sustained minor injuries.
It’s been reported that Guzman, a resident of Chester, was spraying Silly String.
The 36-second video of the incident went viral on the Internet, turning a local incident into national news.
“What we saw on that video was not good, but should it cost him his whole career? This is not in Josey’s character. He made a mistake,” said Rochelle Bilal, president of the Guardian Civic League in a published report. Bilal said Ramsey’s decision was harsh and a 30-day suspension without pay would have been appropriate in this case. Fraternal Order of Police president John McNesby said the union is digging in its heels on this one.
“Sure it looks bad,” McNesby said in a published report. “But, you know, does it warrant firing, with his record? You’ve got to take the whole totality of circumstances into account. We’re going to war on this one. We’re not only going to fight it, we’re going to win.”
The city will not appeal an arbitration award that gives police a wage increase two years in a row, administration officials announced Friday, the final day to make a decision.
“We have reviewed the FOP award and determined that we will not be appealing,” said city solicitor Shelley Smith, at a hastily called press conference in front of the mayor’s office.
That means an arbitration award made in December that granted police officers raises in 2012 and 2013 will stand.
A panel of arbitrators granted the pay increases in a contract re-opener that awarded 3 percent raises in each of those years plus a 1 percent stress increase. That represents $15 million in spending for the first year, and $35 million in the second year.
Finance director Rob Dubow said administration officials decided to let the award stand after concluding that it will still save the city money. He estimated the cost of the award over the five-year plan would be $150 million. But, when considered in the context of the entire contract award, which included provisions for furloughs, slashed healthcare, pensions and vacation costs, it still saved the city.
“It was a very important award for us,” he said.
The head of the police union, John McNesby, president of Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 5, did not return phone calls by Tribune deadline on Friday.
Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration has been at loggerheads with all of the city’s unions. Members of the city’s white and blue collar unions have been working without a contract since 2009. And, the city has launched several appeals of a contract awarded to firefighters.
Asked if the city’s decision had anything to do with an effort to ratchet down growing animosity between the administration and unions, Smith said the decision was simply a matter of finances.
“When we make a legal decision that we think is in the city’s best legal interest, we’re not worried about the animosity, because we recognize that sometimes we’re going to have make a decision that’s in the interest of all the taxpayers …,” she said. “Sadly, part of our job is to do things that sometimes make people unhappy. We’re okay with that.”
Dubow said it was inappropriate to make comparisons between the situation with the police award and the firefighters’ award.
“From this award, we’re getting savings,” he said. “Those kinds of savings didn’t exist in the firefighters’ award.”
In an aside, Smith said that the City is waiting for the appeal against the firefighters to be scheduled in Commonwealth Court.