A high-ranking police officer who was caught on video beating a protester with a metal baton has been criminally charged and other officers are being investigated by Philadelphia Police Department Internal Affairs.
Philadelphia Police Staff Inspector Joseph Bologna Jr. will face charges of aggravated assault, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person, the District Attorney’s Office announced Friday night.
“We are trying to be fair. Accountability has to be equal. This moment demands a swift and even handed response to violent and criminal acts based on the facts and evidence,” District Attorney Krasner said in a written statement. “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.”
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said in a written statement that she was not privy to all of the details that led Krasner to charge Bologna, but noted that Bologna had already been removed from street duty and the police department had already begun an internal affairs investigation.
“As a Department, we do not condone the criminal acts of any person, and it is my sincere hope that the District Attorney does, in fact, hold all people who cause harm to others equally accountable,” Outlaw said.
The commissioner said earlier in the day that she was “deeply concerned” about “several videos” she has seen circulating on social media that captured “disturbing” scenes of officers using excessive force against people in the city who have been protesting police brutality and the killing of George Floyd. Outlaw said the videos “depict behavior that does not appear to be in accord with our policy.”
Yet Outlaw noted that some videos “depict conduct that appears to be within our policy guidelines.”
Outlaw said she has started “several” internal affairs investigations into officers’ conduct.
The video of Bologna showed him using the baton to strike a person later identified as a Temple University student in the back of the head at a protest at about 5:30 p.m. Monday in the area of the 2400 block of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Video of the interaction was posted online and quickly went viral, with people across the country sharing it.
The Temple student suffered “serious bodily injury,” including a large head wound that required treatment in a hospital while under arrest. The DA’s office reported that doctors used approximately 10 staples and approximately 10 sutures to close the wound.
Police detained the Temple student and referred him to the DA’s office for prosecution. But after review of the evidence and the video, Krasner decided not to charge the student and to instead charge Bologna.
Bologna also has been linked to past misconduct and corruption scandals.
The DA’s office has been reviewing other complaints and videos of Philadelphia use of force against protesters.
“Each of these investigations will be conducted in a plural and objective manner without undue delay,” Outlaw said.
The Philadelphia Police Department’s heavy-handed response to demonstrators — including the use of tear gas against protesters on Tuesday — has led Outlaw to put in place new use-of-force policies this week.
A curfew was in place again Friday starting at 8 p.m. as demonstrations stretched into a seventh night.
At least one large protest was planned for Saturday in the area around the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which was expected to attract a “far greater” number of people than last weekend’s protest, Outlaw said.
National Guard troops will remain in the city for “as long as we need them,” the commissioner said.
“We’re not out of the woods yet in that we don’t have a clear end date as to when this activity will cease,” Outlaw said.
While looting and commercial burglaries were ongoing but trending downward, Outlaw highlighted a “troubling incident” that occurred this week.
Around 9 a.m. on Thursday, three masked men cut a hole in the security fence of a welding supply business on the 2300 block of Church Street and stole 14 gas tanks. Ten of the tanks contained acetylene gas and four contained oxygen, gases that are typically used for welding purposes at automotive and other shops.
Outlaw said she was concerned about the burglary because it “isn’t a typical type of theft that you would see.”
“It obviously raises our level of concern and awareness around this because, if intended to be used in the way that we think, that completely goes counter against the peaceful demonstrations that are planned for [Saturday],” Outlaw said.
Since demonstrations began on May 30, police have made 759 arrests. At least 27 officers have sustained injuries, one of them remains hospitalized.
Police have issued the following code violations:
Curfew violations and failure to disperse: 492
Burglary or looting: 231
Assault on police: 15
Firearm violations: 4
Propulsion of a missile: 1
Aggravated assault: 1