New Assault Charges Approved against Philly Police Officer Who Struck, Injured Black Lives Matter Protestor

Screenshot appears to show Joseph Bologna striking a protester with a baton

By Alexa Kendell  

PHILADELPHIA, PA — During a Black Lives Matter protest in June 2020, a protestor and student at Temple University was struck in the neck with a metal baton by Philadelphia Police Officer Joseph Bologna, Jr., that resulted in the victim sustaining significant head injuries requiring about 10 staples and sutures.

Bologna was arrested for simple assault, reckless endangerment and possession of an instrument of crime following the incident. His charges were later thrown out by a judge.

But Tuesday, the Philadelphia District Attorney refiled charges.

Originally, the student was arrested and referred to the District Attorney’s Office for assaulting a police officer. However, after the District Attorney’s Office reviewed the evidence, they cleared the student of any charges and instead sought to charge Bologna.

A passerby recorded Bologna striking the student with a metal rod and tackling him to the ground and posted it on Twitter, leading to significant public outrage in a time of extreme anger and activism against police brutality. Bologna was fired quickly after the footage going viral on Twitter.

Reviews of Bologna’s time in the Philadelphia Police Department showed that Bologna received numerous complaints of previous misconduct before being fired.

However, the police union continued to heavily support Bologna, with more than 100 officers gathering outside the union headquarters where Bologna surrendered. They even went so far as selling “Bologna Strong” T-shirts to show their support.

The Philadelphia Police Department has proven to have a history of incidents surrounding police brutality and systemic racism. Multiple instances of police violence have said to have occurred within the Philadelphia Police Department, with many being left unresolved.

In January 2021, Bologna was cleared of all criminal charges during a preliminary hearing by a lower-court judge, Municipal Court Judge Henry Lewandowski, III. Lewandowski, III, ruled that the DA failed to present sufficient evidence to prove Bologna’s actions were enough to be considered a crime.

Philly District Attorney Larry Krasner quickly refiled the charges.

The charges of simple assault (M2) and possession of an instrument of crime (M1) were approved by the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas just Tuesday.

Krasner stated, “The People demand accountability from powerful institutions, and that means the law must apply equally to all. My office seeks every day to hold those who cause harm accountable in a fair and evenhanded way, regardless of the office they hold or the badge they wear.”

The court decided to reinstate only some charges, dismissing the felony aggravated assault charge and reckless endangerment.

Krasner disagreed with the court’s decision, “given the seriousness of the head injury suffered by the victim,” adding, “Because a just resolution of this matter is of great public interest and importance, we will be reviewing our options for the best course forward as prosecutors on behalf of the Commonwealth.”

About The Author

Alexa Kendell is a 3rd year political science major at the University of California, Davis. She has a passion for political science and hopes to attend law school following her undergrad.

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