Nutter apologizes to woman punched by officer at parade

Aida Guzman suffereda cut to her lower lip.
Aida Guzman suffereda cut to her lower lip.
Posted: October 06, 2012

Mayor Nutter on Thursday extended a personal apology to the woman who was "cold-cocked" by Philadelphia Police Lt. Jonathan Josey in an incident that was captured on a cellphone video and gained national notoriety this week.

The woman, Aida Guzman of Chester, was "injured and humiliated at the hands of someone who knows better, or should have known better," said Nutter, who said he watched the YouTube video 20 times.

"Every time I look at it, I am appalled, I am sickened, and I am ashamed on behalf of the good men and women of the Philadelphia Police Department," the mayor said at a news conference, flanked by Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey and other city officials.

Enrique Latoison, Guzman's attorney, said Guzman was thankful for Nutter's apology. Shortly after the news conference at City Hall, Nutter's staff contacted Latoison to arrange a meeting with Guzman on Friday.

"This is what she was hoping for, an apology, so we're happy," Latoison said.

Latoison said Guzman, 39, had not yet decided whether she would file suit against the city, but he said that at the least she would likely seek to have her medical expenses paid.

Nutter said he fully supported Ramsey's decision to fire Josey, who on Wednesday was suspended for 30 days with the intent to dismiss. Josey is a 19-year veteran of the department who was assigned to the Highway Patrol Unit.

John McNesby, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, has said that the union would appeal the decision and that he was optimistic that Josey would get his job back.

Ramsey said it was possible Josey could face criminal counts, but said it was up to the District Attorney's Office to decide whether to press charges. He and Nutter declined to say whether they felt the behavior should be considered criminal, but Ramsey indicated that was a possibility.

Josey's punch bloodied Guzman's face and knocked her to the ground, hard. The incident was captured Sunday in a video recorded at Fifth Street and Lehigh Avenue during a raucous, crowded celebration of the city's annual Puerto Rican Day Parade.

The video spread quickly to national news outlets Monday morning. Within hours, Josey was placed on desk duty. Two days later, he was fired.

Asked if the level of media outrage influenced the swift resolution of the case, Nutter replied, "We had our own outrage."

After the punch from the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Josey, Guzman was arrested for disorderly conduct because police said they thought she was throwing liquid at a group of officers. On Wednesday, District Attorney Seth Williams dropped the charges against Guzman.

"Ms. Guzman was actually walking away from the group of officers when the lieutenant rushed her, using his height and his weight, cold-cocked her, and delivered a blow that instantly sent her to the ground," Nutter said Thursday.

Nutter was particularly angered that the behavior came from an officer in a supervisory position.

"In tough situations out on the street, we have our supervisors there to manage those situations, and to set an example of coolness under fire," Nutter said. "Supervisors are highly trained and experienced at maintaining control. And when there is chaos, they are supposed to be rock-solid decision-makers, issuing orders and maintaining their calm."

Ramsey acknowledged that recent months, during which several high-ranking officers have been implicated in committing misconduct or crimes, have been difficult for the department. He also said the events of this week demonstrate the power of video, which provided such clear evidence of the punch that Ramsey decided he had grounds to fire Josey without waiting for the conclusion of an internal investigation.

"Had we not had video, we would not be standing here at this moment in time, more than likely," he said. "Video does help investigations of all kinds."


Contact Allison Steele at 215-854-2641 or asteele@phillynews.com.

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