When Staff Inspector Joseph Bologna of the Philadelphia police department left union headquarters yesterday to turn himself in after being charged with aggravated assault, his fellow officers and police supporters clapped and cheered. Bologna is charged with severely beating a student protesting the death of George Floyd in police custody.
BREAKING: @PhillyPolice Staff Inspector Joe Bologna,54,leaves @FOPLodge5 to turn himself in on felony charges for violent protest confrontation last week that severely injured @TempleUniv student,21, when hit on head with police baton @FOX29philly pic.twitter.com/VsJSYSseHY
— Steve Keeley (@KeeleyFox29) June 8, 2020
A video of the incident involving Bologna and the student shows a chaotic situation. The students apparently refused an order to disperse. Some of the students advanced toward the police. Bologna can be seen grabbing one student while another one lunged at him. Bologna swung his baton once, striking the student in the head and then subdued him.
Philly police attempt to disperse crowd after hundreds mased/gassed on Parkway. This was @ 5:30 as curfew nears. Dude w/ white shirt provokes scuffle, shoves baton into civilian’s throat. #phillyprotest #blacklivesmatter #GeorgeFloydprotests #protests2020 pic.twitter.com/XDKOMbr0Sr
— Peopledelphia (@Peopledelphia) June 1, 2020
Sitting in my comfortable chair running and rerunning the video, it’s easy to determine that the police could have handled the situation better, that they may have overreacted, that Bologna may have mistaken the young man lunging forward to help his friend as an attack on him.
But Inspector Bologna didn’t have that luxury.
The FOP said it would “vigorously defend” Bologna against “these baseless allegations” and described him as one of the city’s “most decorated and respected” police leaders.
“He was engaged in a volatile and chaotic situation with only milliseconds to make a decision,” the union said in a statement on Friday.
The union is also selling T-shirts in support of Bologna that read “Bologna Strong.”