Annette John-Hall: Fund-raiser for cop who punched woman was an insult

A still taken from video during Sunday's Puerto Rican Day celebration shows Lt. Jonathan Josey striking Aida Guzman, 39, of Chester.
A still taken from video during Sunday's Puerto Rican Day celebration shows Lt. Jonathan Josey striking Aida Guzman, 39, of Chester.
Posted: October 31, 2012

It amounted to another slap in the face to the woman sucker-punched by a Philadelphia cop, you know, the boys in blue who took vows to serve and protect.

Yet the only citizens the officers were serving and protecting Sunday were themselves, as they flocked into Fraternal Order of Police headquarters for a $30-a-head fund-raiser for Lt. Jonathan Josey, the recently fired "protector" who delivered a knockdown blow to Chester mom Aida Guzman at the Puerto Rican Day parade last month.

Thank God somebody had the good sense to record the incident with a cellphone and post it on YouTube. Otherwise, Josey would have gone on his merry way.

Thanks to a band of about 100 protesters, led by about 50 from the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women (NCOPRW), his celebrators weren't able to, either.

Holding signs that read "Abuse Does Not Call for Celebrations" and "3 Million US Women Abused Yearly," they chanted "Shame, shame, shame" at the partygoers, particularly the women, as they walked in.

"Some circumstances call for arrest, but no circumstance calls for abuse," said Quetcy Lozada, Philadelphia president of NCOPRW. The incident was particularly disturbing to Latinas because domestic abuse affects them disproportionately, she said. "You see a person in authority beating on another woman for no apparent reason - a lot of women in Latina homes are in that situation."

It's fair to compare Josey's attack on Guzman with domestic violence, Lozada said, "because of the fact he had so many violent offenses." This also happens to be Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Sure, Josey, 40, may have been highly regarded inside the department and admired outside of it - his charisma landing him roles in independent films and a Sexy Singles spot in 2006. But I'm guessing that Commissioner Charles Ramsey thought Josey's act was wearing thin.

The city had already paid for his shenanigans before, doling out $7,500 to a man who alleged that Josey threw him against a wall and kicked and punched him. Not to mention that, during his 19-year career, Josey chalked up 13 citizen complaints, many of which claimed physical abuse.

Somehow all the complaints were deemed unfounded or unable to be substantiated. All those citizens making stuff up. Right.

On Sunday, a row of uniformed officers stood outside to "maintain the peace," according to Capt. Stephen Glenn of the Department of Civil Affairs. But I could have sworn I saw a few of them smirking at the protesters who demonstrated in the pre-Sandy wind and rain.

That's why a whole lot of folks simply don't trust the police. The fete for Josey felt like an arrogant, how-you-like-me-now face assault.

Said Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez and one of the protesters, who represents the Kensington neighborhood where the incident occurred: " I think it's ironic that just yesterday, we had hundreds of women get together for the Walk to End Domestic Violence. There's a perception that (the FOP) is very insensitive."

Perception? When Ramsey dismissed Josey quickly, followed up by Mayor Nutter's personal apology to Guzman, that was the right thing to do.

And while the FOP did not technically host the party, the "friends of Josey" did use its facility and letterhead. FOP president John McNesby has vowed to fight on for Josey, arguing that the punishment didn't fit the crime.

Let's be real: What you see on that video of a strapping officer, a commander no less, punching out a slight, unsuspecting woman from behind "was unacceptable," said Julia Ponce, 59, a grandmother who protested with her daughter and granddaughter. "We pay [police] salaries with our taxes, and that's what we pay them for? To abuse citizens?"

Ramsey has said it countless times, and it bears repeating: The vast majority of his 6,000 officers are good cops. The few bad ones taint them all.

By the way, officers also sold T-shirts at their "Friends of Josey" fund-raiser that read: "Men and Women in Blue Will Always Stand by You."

How ironic.


Contact Annette John-Hall at 215-854-4986, Ajohnhall@phillynews.com or on Twitter @Annettejh

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