A bystander filmed the incident on a cellphone camera and posted the video on YouTube, where it has been seen by thousands, many of whom have found Josey guilty in the court of public opinion. The video shows him rushing up to Aida Guzman and taking a swing that leaves her lying on the ground with a bloody lip.
Josey testified on Feb. 12 that he believed Guzman was one of several people who threw beer on officers responding to a car being driven recklessly near the crowd. Seeing her with a Corona bottle, Josey said he unintentionally hit her while trying to knock it from her hand. "I didn't expect to come into contact with her face," he said.
In the video, he doesn't hesitate to handcuff the clearly dazed Guzman, a slightly built mother of three. She later admitted shooting a can of Silly String into the crowd but denied throwing beer. Guzman was initially cited for disorderly conduct, but the District Attorney's Office dismissed the charge after seeing the video.
Too often, people victimized by abusive or larcenous policemen accept their plight, believing their word alone won't outweigh a sworn officer's. So it's troubling that Judge Dugan dismissed the credibility of the video evidence, saying the media had used it to sensationalize the incident. "This is not trial by video," he said.
The video didn't convict Josey, but it does show an inappropriate response by an officer assigned to crowd control. He should have known better than to swing wildly in apparent anger. Josey's actions at least suggest a lack of training that should be rectified for other officers. At worst, they indicate that he lacks the temperament for a job that requires better than knee-jerk reactions to volatile situations.