Police Commissioner Reacts to Video of Officer Hitting Woman

Philadelphia's top cop says the video of one of his commanding officers hitting a woman is just one of a half dozen embarrassing incidents for the department in recent weeks

By Jackie Gailey and Karen Araiza
|  Tuesday, Oct 2, 2012  |  Updated 11:55 PM EDT
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Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey speaks for the first time about the video that shows one of his officers striking a woman on a street. He calls the video troubling.

NBCPhiladelphia.com- Rosemary Connors

Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey speaks for the first time about the video that shows one of his officers striking a woman on a street. He calls the video troubling.

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Witnesses Wanted in Takedown on Tape

Philadelphia police want to talk to anyone who witnessed a decorated officer striking a woman on a North Philadelphia street.

Cop on Desk Duty After Allegedly Hitting Woman

Cell phone video captured Philadelphia Police Lt. Johnathan Josey allegedly knocking Aida Guzman to the ground after a parade on Sunday. The Philadelphia Police Department has launched an internal investigation for the incident. NBC10's Deanna Durante reports.
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Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey says the video showing one of his commanding officers hitting a woman on Sunday is another embarrassing moment for the department. He said at least six officers have damaged the department's reputation in the last two months.

"All it takes is a negative incident to paint everybody with a broad brush...I'm concerned about it...It overshadows the great work that's done every day."

In this latest incident, cell phone video shows Lt. Jonathan Josey hitting a woman at the Festival de la Americas following the Philadelphia Puerto Rican Day Parade. The video is getting hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube

"Obviously it's a video that's very troubling. When you see it, it's very clear and from what I saw, difficult to justify the actions that took place," said Commissioner Ramsey, who insists the video doesn't tell the whole story, including what led up to the encounter.

"You only see one vantage point, but what you do see is disturbing, I have to be honest about that" said Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Ross.

The incident happened near 5th and Lehigh streets in North Philadelphia, after the parade on the Parkway. Parade organizers say they had nothing to do with the North Philadelphia event.

Officials say Guzman was spraying silly string at officers involved in a traffic stop. Guzman was cited for disorderly conduct. Her face was bleeding as officers took her away. She doesn't speak much English, but tells NBC10 "I feel angry, very angry. I go to someplace, got a good time and look this happen, for no reason".

Internal Affairs is investigating the incident. Ramsey says they are in the process of talking to witnesses, but the woman has a lawyer now and is refusing to cooperate, Ramsey said.

Guzman's attorney Enrique Latoison counters that claim. “You can believe that my client and I will be cooperating with this investigation.”

Latoison says his client spraying silly string is irrelevant to what happened, and says the officers only turned around when a liquid was thrown by another person in the crowd.

“When that silly string is shot, no officers turn around-- no one does anything. It’s only liquid that comes flying that gets these officers attention,” said Latoison.

Lt. Josey has been with the department for 19 years and is a decorated supervisor with the Highway Patrol. He is now on administrative duty.

"I'm concerned about this. Deeply concerned," Ramsey said. "If action is needed, it will be strong action." The Commissioner said he wants to be as thorough and quick in the investigation as possible.

The Fraternal Order of Police says it will defend Josey "to the end." Union president John McNesby said officers don't know what's being thrown at them, it has been bleach and urine in the past. He cautioned people not to judge the incident by a small clip of video.

Lt. Josey has made headlines before. He was exonerated in the shooting death of a Philadelphia man shortly after the man robbed a convenience store in Lower Merion in March 2010.

In July 2010, Lt. Josey was stabbed in the back while trying to break up a fight outside a West Philadelphia bar.

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