A Philadelphia police commander has been charged with aggravated assault for allegedly beating a Temple University student with a baton during a protest Tuesday in Center City, the city District Attorney said Friday night.
Police Staff Inspector Joseph Bologna Jr. is allegedly the cop seen in a video attacking the student, then jumping on the student and making an arrest.
"Cell phone 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," District Attorney Larry Krasner said in a statement. "The Temple student suffered serious bodily injury, including a large head wound that required treatment in a hospital while under arrest, including approximately 10 staples and approximately 10 sutures."
The student, identified by his attorney as Evan Gorski, was detained for 24 hours before charges were dropped after the video of his violent arrest went viral. Gorski is wearing the Eagles jersey in the video posted and seen below:
The arrest comes hours after Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said earlier Friday that her agency was reviewing videos that showed police officers in violent confrontations with people protesting the death of George Floyd.
Lawyers, protesters, legal observers and a handful of activist organizations have strongly criticized multiple instances of police use of force during the protests, many recorded by reporters or posted on social media. A confrontation Monday involving officers firing tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters who had gotten on to Interstate 676 and were trying to retreat up a steep embankment has drawn national attention.
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Outlaw said she had seen several of the videos and while some of the use of force seemed to be within department policy, some were “disturbing.”
“I am deeply concerned about this, and as a result I have initiated several concurrent internal affairs investigations,” Outlaw said.
Gorski's attorney Jonathan Feinberg said Friday that the engineering student was at home recovering from his injuries after being in custody for almost 40 hours earlier this week.
In one video of the encounter, a group of protesters can be seen engaging with bicycle officers in a grassy area near the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Monday night. It was unclear what caused the interaction to escalate, but Gorski is seen reaching out to separate another protester from the officer's grip before he is struck.
“It happened in broad daylight, with hundreds if not thousands of people around," Feinberg said. "This officer had to know what he was doing was observable... to everyone who was there, and he did it anyway.”
Outlaw said Bologna has been taken off street duty during the investigation. She declined to say how many officers have been removed from duty.
The commissioner said in a statement following Kranser's announcement of charges against Bologna that "an internal affairs investigation had already been initiated; and irrespective of the District Attorney's prosecution, the internal affairs investigation will continue."
"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.
She added that she has "not been made privy to the entirety of the information that led to Mr. Krasner's decision to charge Staff Inspector Bologna."
The commissioner earlier confirmed that the Internal Affairs Division is also reviewing the decisions that led to deploying force during the confrontations on Interstate 676, as well as the decision to use tear gas and other force against the protesters.
A short time before a 6 p.m. curfew took effect, police officers were recorded by reporters, protesters and observers lobbing smoke canisters, tear gas and shooting projectiles later identified as bean bags and “OC pellets” — a type of rubber bullet — at the protesters who were clambering up a steep embankment and over a fence to get off the highway and try to escape the tear gas.
Officers continued to fire even as the protesters retreated. A few dozen people were arrested on the highway, but it was unclear what charges they faced or if all of them were charged.
Outlaw and Mayor Jim Kenney sent a joint press release late Monday defending the use of tear gas. Outlaw said one of the incidents that led to the use of force was protesters surrounding a state trooper who was alone in his car, rocking it back and forth and vandalizing it.
Trooper William Butler wrote in a short summary that the unnamed trooper became stuck in traffic as it backed up because of protesters. The trooper said a group of protesters surrounded the marked patrol car in traffic and vandalized it.
Butler said the event is still under investigation.
Philadelphia Controller Rebecca Rhynhart announced she also planned to investigate officer actions during the protests.
Outlaw issued a memo to officers after the highway clash directing them to radio in any use of force as it occurred, in addition to filing standard written reports.
Outlaw said the city has made 759 arrests, including 231 for looting or burglary. Twenty-seven officers have been injured, and one remains hospitalized.
She said the city had just three reports of commercial burglaries, the category for looting, on May 29, before the demonstrations began. That rose to 29 on Saturday, 247 on Sunday, a peak of 411 on Monday and 181 Tuesday. They fell to 47 on Thursday, she said.
Philadelphia officials said they expected a large crowd at a Saturday protest in the area around the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Vehicle traffic will be restricted around the city’s center.