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World & Nation

Philly mayor apologizes for officer punching woman: ‘I’m ashamed’

Video of a Philadelphia policeman punching a woman in the face and leaving her bloodied and bruised has prompted the mayor to apologize to the woman. The footage has been viewed more than 1 million times on YouTube, and demands have grown for the cop’s ouster.

The police officer, Lt. Jonathan D. Josey II, has been suspended for 30 days as a result of Sunday’s incident at the Puerto Rican Day Parade, and is expected to be fired.

“I have watched it 20 times, and every time I look at it, I am appalled, I am sickened and I’m ashamed on behalf of the good men and women of the Philadelphia Police Department,” Mayor Michael Anthony Nutter told reporters Thursday of the video.

Nutter said that, from what he saw, Aida Guzman was walking away, with her back to Josey, when the officer “rushed her and, using his height and his weight, cold-cocked her and delivered a blow that instantly sent her to the ground.” On the video, Guzman, 39, falls back to the ground, blood pouring from her mouth. She is then handcuffed and led away by Josey.

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The city’s police officers union has stood by Josey. Officers said they suspected that Guzman was among a group of people who had tossed a liquid or Silly String on some of them as they patrolled during the parade. And, in fact, the local NBC affiliate aired additional video captured seconds before the punching incident that showed Guzman spraying what appears to be Silly String toward officers.

A charge of disorderly conduct against Guzman was dropped, however, after prosecutors viewed the punching video and concluded that there was insufficient evidence to back the allegation.

Police Chief Charles Ramsey told NBC he agreed with the decision to drop charges against Guzman. “Looking at the video and looking at the charges, clearly there were some discrepancies there, so I’m not at all surprised. In fact, I’m rather pleased they decided to drop the charges. I think it’s appropriate in this matter,” he said.

John McNesby of the Fraternal Order of Police said Josey was being treated “like a second-class citizen.”

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“He’s being fired without just cause, and we’re going to look forward to making sure he’s restored,” McNesby told reporters after Ramsey announced Wednesday that Josey was being suspended for 30 days “with the intent to dismiss.”

Guzman’s attorney, Enrique Latoison, said he was grateful for the video, which was captured on someone’s cellphone and posted to YouTube shortly after the incident. By Friday, it had been viewed more than 1.4 million times.

“I think we can all see if this wasn’t on video, my client wouldn’t even have an opportunity to defend herself,” he said.

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tina.susman@latimes.com

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