Thursday, February 28, 2013 4:42 pm
Pa. judge clears officer of assault; wife's a cop
By MARYCLAIRE DALEAssociated Press
Municipal Judge Patrick Dugan did not return a call for comment Thursday on the alleged conflict of interest. Judicial conduct rules prohibit him from commenting, a court spokesman said.
But a lawyer for Aida Guzman, who was injured by fired Officer Jonathan Josey at last fall's Puerto Rican Day parade, said it "looks really, really bad" that Dugan never mentioned his wife's job. And a city councilwoman described the community as outraged by Tuesday's verdict.
"He should have recused himself," said Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez, who said the ruling erodes the community's faith in the court system.
"We've had several different scandals within the police department, (including) store owners being robbed by police," Sanchez said. "It is very hard for us to bridge that, and get people to believe that justice plays out in the city of Philadelphia."
The video, widely viewed online, shows the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Josey taking a swing at the petite Guzman, knocking her down and leaving her with a split lip before she is handcuffed.
Josey's lawyer said his client was trying to knock a beer out of her hands after Guzman refused to drop it. Revelers had been tossing water bottles, beer and Silly String at police as they tried to stop someone driving through the crowd, defense lawyer Fortunato Perri Jr. said.
Guzman testified that she had been drinking and had a beer bottle and Silly String in her hands, Perri said. The 40-year-old Chester woman has prior convictions for drunken driving, theft and lying to police.
"He went over to smack the bottle out of her hand and caught part of her lip with part of his hand," Perri said. He called Josey's actions reasonable given the context of the situation.
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey fired Josey after viewing the cellphone video, while Mayor Michael Nutter this week called Dugan's verdict "beyond (his) comprehension."
But Dugan, who is married to Officer Nancy Farrell Dugan, said he would not be swayed by public reaction.
"This is not a social media contest," Dugan said in court Tuesday.
The city prosecutor handling the one-day misdemeanor trial - which was attended by a small cadre of police officers - did not know of Dugan's link to the department, a District Attorney's Office spokeswoman said.
Josey, 41, who moonlights as an actor, will petition to get his day job back. He's been an officer for 19 years, and once intervened in an armed robbery at a suburban convenience store, fatally shooting the gunman. The Montgomery County prosecutor deemed the 2010 shooting of the AWOL Iraq veteran justified.
"Being a cop in this city is something I've wanted to do since I was 5 years old," Josey said Tuesday. "So, getting back to doing what I do best ... is what I'm looking forward to."
The city vowed to oppose his return, which goes to binding arbitration.
Guzman plans to sue him and the city, while her lawyer has asked the Justice Department to review Dugan's role in the case.
"Finding out that his mortgage is with the Fire and Police credit union, and he's married to a police officer, ... it looks really, really bad," said Enrique Latoison, who represented Guzman on the disorderly conduct charge, which was dismissed.
Sanchez said that city officers - especially a supervisor like Josey - should know how to handle crowds in a city famous for its raucous sports celebrations.
"We could have had a melee," Sanchez said. "People fortunately did not react. What's going to prevent a reaction next time if people do not believe justice is being served?"