The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas approved refiled charges against a former Philadelphia police commander who was captured on video hitting a Temple University student with a baton during racial justice protests last year.
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office had refiled misdemeanor charges of simple assault, reckless endangerment and possession of an instrument of crime against Joseph Bologna Jr., 55, in February after they were dismissed by a judge during a preliminary hearing in January.
“We respectfully disagree with the court’s decision to dismiss the felony Aggravated Assault charge, given the seriousness of the head injury suffered by the victim, which required multiple stitches and staples,” Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said in a statement Tuesday. “Because a just resolution of this matter is of great public interest and importance, we will be reviewing our options for the best course forward as prosecutors on behalf of the Commonwealth.”
On Tuesday, the Court of Common Pleas approved the refiled charges of simple assault and possession of an instrument of crime against Bologna.
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“The people demand accountability from powerful institutions, and that means the law must apply equally to all. My office seeks every day to hold those who cause harm accountable in a fair and evenhanded way, regardless of the office they hold or the badge they wear,” Krasner said.
Krasner had initially filed the charges last year after cellphone video showed Bologna repeatedly hitting Temple student Evan Gorski during protests over the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died handcuffed as a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Bologna’s actions caused Gorski to sustain “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,” Krasner said at the time.
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Gorski was initially arrested but later released, and charges against him were dropped after the video of his beating went viral.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw also said at the time that the Philadelphia Police Department was launching an internal investigation into Bologna who was later fired from the Philadelphia Police Department.
John McNesby, president of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5, which represents law enforcement officers in the city, called the initial charges against Bologna a "rush to judgment" on the part of Krasner.
McNesby released a statement in February on Krasner's decision to refile charges.
"This is not unexpected from a District Attorney, who craves media attention and is facing a primary challenge from inside his own party," McNesby wrote. "DA Krasner is clearly running away from his failed record over the past three years and this latest decision to re-charge this officer is not based on facts or evidence."
In response to the court approving the refiled charges on Tuesday, McNesby said in a statement that the FOP would "vigorously defend Joe Bologna against these baseless charges."
"This is another attempt by DA Krasner to railroad a highly decorated and well-respected member of the Philadelphia police department," McNesby wrote. "Joe Bologna has served this city with respect and dignity for decades and we will not give up the fight to clear his name.”