The clip posted to YouTube sparked national outrage and led to a lauded member of the Philadelphia Police Department’s elite Highway Patrol unit losing his job.
And while the since-fired Lt. Jonathan Josey was long ago deemed guilty of abusing his police powers in the court of public opinion, a judge in a Philly courtroom says the case isn’t so clear.
On Tuesday morning, Municipal Court Judge Patrick F. Dugan found Josey not guilty of simple assault in charges stemming from an incident where the former lieutenant was seen knocking a woman off her feet during a street party following the 2012 Puerto Rican Parade.
In the 30-second clip, aired on TV networks across the country, the stunned woman is dragged to her feet, her face bleeding, before being handcuffed and hauled off. Just before Josey hits her, liquid is seen being sprayed from a nearby crowd onto a group of police officers.
Judge Dugan conceded the clip is hard to watch. But it doesn’t prove an assault took place, he says.
That ruling triggered what Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Joseph A. Slobodzian described as “a deafening eruption of cheers from a courtroom packed with scores of Philadelphia police.”
Watch the controversial YouTube clip:
In dismissing the charges, Dugan cited the hectic nature of the Sept. 30 scene, testimony from fellow officers, and Josey’s claim that he was merely trying to knock a bottle out of Aida Guzman’s hand after party-goers launched beer bottles at the officers, the Inquirer reports.
“This is not a social media contest, this is not trial by video,” Dugan told the courtroom.
Guzman, 40, said through a lawyer that she intends to file a civil complaint.
District Attorney Seth Williams released a statement on Twitter saying he disagreed with the verdict, but that it is time to move on:
@dasethwilliams says: “I respect Judge Dugan’s decision but I disagree with it.” “Let’s be clear there were no winners on that day in Sept.”
— Philadelphia DAO (@Philly_DAsOfc) February 26, 2013
For his part, Josey told reporters outside the courtroom that he plans on getting his job back.