Ramsey: "deeply troubled" at video of officer punching woman

Posted: October 04, 2012

Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey on Tuesday said he was "deeply troubled" by the now-notorious video of Lt. Jonathan Josey punching a woman in the face, and promised to make a decision about the case soon.

"From what I saw, it's difficult to justify the actions that took place," said Ramsey at a news conference in Germantown Tuesday night, which was held immediately after Ramsey returned from an international police chiefs' conference in San Diego.

Josey's punch to the woman's head, which knocked her to the ground and bloodied her face, was captured Sunday on a cellphone video recorded at Fifth Street and Lehigh Avenue during a raucous, crowded celebration of the city's annual Puerto Rican Day parade. Since it was uploaded to YouTube, the video has attracted national attention and thousands of viewers.

Ramsey said the footage was particularly disturbing in light of the fact that Josey, a 19-year veteran of the department, is a supervisor who was supposed to set an example for other officers monitoring the festivities that day.

"The higher the rank, the more responsibility we have," Ramsey said.

Josey, 39, who is assigned to the Highway Patrol Unit, has been put on desk duty pending the outcome of an internal investigation. He has declined to comment.

Ramsey said Josey has done "some good things" in his career.

"That doesn't mean behavior like this is going to be accepted," he said.

Ramsey said it appeared Josey used excessive force to make the arrest, but said he could not discipline Josey until after he has reviewed the facts of the case.

The woman, Aida Guzman of Chester, was arrested Sunday for disorderly conduct after police apparently thought she threw liquid at them. The video depicts Guzman moving around a group of police officers who are clustered around a stopped car. Someone in the crowd tosses some liquid at the group, and as Guzman walks away, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Josey follows her and strikes her.

This week, Guzman said the incident sickened and angered her. She also said she wanted Josey to face repercussions for his actions.

Ramsey said investigators from the Internal Affairs bureau still have not been able to interview Guzman, despite visiting her home twice and sending a registered letter. He indicated that her attorney has told her not to speak to the department, and issued a public request that she speak to investigators about the incident to help move the investigation forward.

"She can rest assured there will be a full and thorough investigation," Ramsey said.

Josey is known by many in the department as an extraordinarily active officer, both on and off the job. In 2010, when he was off-duty, he shot and killed an armed robber who was holding up a 7-Eleven in Bala Cynwyd. A few months later, also off-duty, he was stabbed in the back after intervening in a fight outside a West Philadelphia bar.

Josey also is known to some as aggressive and quick to react. Multiple sources said he has been investigated by the department several times for discharging his firearm on the job.

He has amassed 13 citizen complaints over the course of his career, many from people alleging verbal or physical abuse. Those allegations were not substantiated, records show. He has been cited by the Internal Affairs bureau for failing to provide proper documentation during an investigation, and in 2007, the city paid $5,000 to a New Jersey man after an investigation found that Josey illegally stopped and searched his car.

Also in 2007, the city paid $7,500 to settle a lawsuit that alleged Josey threw a man against a wall in West Oak Lane, then kicked and punched him while looking for a fellow officer's stolen gun.

Allison Steele can be reached at 215-854-2641, or at asteele@phillynews.com

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