Charges dismissed against police officer in summer protest

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Charges have been dismissed against a Philadelphia police officer accused of hitting a protester in the head with a metal baton during a racial injustice protest.

Police inspector Joseph Bologna, 54, was suspended after a video showed him beating the protester last June. But a judge ruled on Friday that prosecutors had not presented enough evidence to establish that Bologna’s use of its baton constituted a crime.

“It really is a great victory for people like Inspector Bologna, who risked their lives for strangers, which he was doing,” lawyer Brian McMonagle said in court after the dismissal of the heads of charge. “This destruction of his life and career should never have happened. And we’re just happy today that justice has been served for him and his family.

Bologna, a member of the force for 30 years, left the courthouse without commenting. Police had suspended him with the intention of firing him, but his lawyers said on Friday that he now had the option to seek his full reinstatement. He hasn’t decided yet.

“Justice must be applied equally and impartially,” District Attorney Larry Krasner said in a statement on Friday. “No one is above the law. We fully intend to bring this matter to a fair conclusion.”

The Bologna attorney had previously said his actions were justified because the protests against the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis had turned violent.

Bologna, 54, had been charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and possession of an instrumentality.

A video that circulated widely on social media showed Bologna hitting a 21-year-old Temple University student on the head and neck with a baton during a protest in June. The student was knocked to the ground and another officer put one knee to hold him down.

Authorities said the protester’s injuries required staples and stitches. He was first arrested but was later released and the charges against him were dropped.

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