Police officers in Philadelphia gathered together by their local union headquarters on Monday to defend a staff inspector facing assault charges. Officer Joseph Bologna Jr. was filed striking a protester in the head with his baton last week, with the victim Evan Gorski suffering injuries that saw him require medical attention.
As Philly Voice reports, footage of the incident went viral last week, prompting Bologna to be hit with aggravated assault, simple assault, possessing an instrument of crime, and reckless endagerment charges. The student he struck with his baton required 10 staples and was detained for more than 24 hours, but prosecutors refused to bring charges after they saw the video.
"We are trying to be fair," said District Attorney Larry Krasner. "Accountability has to be equal. This moment demands a swift and evenhanded response to violent and criminal acts based on the facts and evidence."
Commissioner Danielle Outlaw revealed the Philadelphia Police Department's Internal Affairs division is investigating the incident. "I am aware of several videos circulating on social media," Outlaw said on Friday. "Some of the images are disturbing and depict behavior that does not appear to be in accord with our policy."
When Bologna Jr. surrended on the charges on Monday, videos showed a large number of officers cheering him as he left the 14th District station. He was joined by local police union president John McNesby.
Prior to cheering the officer charged with assault, McNesby said he was "disgusted" to hear about the charges. "Once again, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner has rushed to judgment in filing these criminal charges without a complete and thorough investigation," he said. "These charges clearly illustrate Krasner's anti-police agenda in Philadelphia."
FOP Lodge 5, the union that represents Bologna, also shared a post on Sunday to express support for Bologna with "Bologna Strong" t-shirts.
All the way back in 2017, McNesby called Black Lives Matter protesters "a pack of rabid animals" and "a racist hate [group] determined to instigate violence." He made the comments during a "Back the Blue" rally held to support police forces in response to protest outside the house of ex-cop Ryan Pownall, who shot 30-year-old David Jones twice in the back for riding a dirt bike on a city street.