Ramsey responds to video of officer punching woman

October 3, 2012 4:47:24 AM PDT
The Philadelphia Police Commissioner has ordered a full investigation into the incident of a police officer punching a woman that was captured on camera.

Commissioner Charles Ramsey, who was attending a police chiefs' conference in San Diego when the video first appeared Sunday, weighed in on the incident for the first time Tuesday night.

"Obviously, it's a video that's very troubling. When you see it, it's very clear and from what I saw, it's difficult to justify the actions that took place," Ramsey said.

The video of the incident at 5th and Lehigh during a Puerto Rican Day Parade after-party quickly went viral and has now been viewed almost a million times across the web.

Earlier in the video, the woman who was struck, 39-year-old Aida Gusman is seen spraying silly string in the air, but never striking any officer.

A few seconds later someone lobs a liquid from behind Gusman at the officers prompting the violent reaction from Lt. Jonathan Josey, a 19 year veteran and highly decorated officer.

Josey is now on desk duty, under investigation by Internal Affairs for the punch now seen 'round the world.

"If there was an arrest to be made, you use only the force necessary to affect that arrest. From what I saw that was in excess of what was needed," Ramsey said.

Still, Ramsey says he does not want to rush to judgment and will wait to hear if there are any extenuating circumstances he may not be aware of.

Meanwhile, the Fraternal Order of Police is alluding to the video of Gusman spraying silly string contends she may have provoked the incident.

"If you look at the entire tape, I see nothing excessive," said FOP president John McNesby. "I see the girl being handcuffed and led away."

When asked about the punch thrown by Josey, McNesby said, "I mean, you're allowed to use force out there."

On Tuesday night, Gusman lawyer's Enrique Latoison called the silly string defense nonsense.

"This isn't about silly string, this doesn't say anything about silly string. This says beer being thrown on several police officers. Those charges were improper; she should have never been charged," Latoison said.

As far as the charges of lobbing beer at police being dropped against Gusman, Commissioner Ramsey says that will be up to the district attorney to review and decide.

Ramsey said the internal investigation is well underway.

He said investigators have been taking statements from witnesses.

He said the department has been unable to speak with Gusman, but Latoison says that was before she had a lawyer.

"We are participating in any investigation and we're not trying to hamper any investigation in this matter," Latoison said.

Commissioner Ramsey says Lt. Josey has had 13 other complaints filed against him during the course of his career, two of those sustained.

He says he is troubled that Josey is the sixth person at the rank of lieutenant or above to be accused of alleged misconduct in the last two months or so.

"And whenever it is a ranking member, that is something that I think really damages the department far more than any other action although they all cause damage," Ramsey said.


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