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February 12, 2021

Seeking 'even-handed justice,' Krasner refiles charges against fired Philly police officer who struck protester

Joseph Bologna's baton blows left Evan Gorski with head injuries that required staples and sutures, prosecutors have alleged

Courts Charges
Larry Krasner Bologna Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

District Attorney Larry Krasner says he is trying to give Philadelphia 'even-handed justice' by refiling charges against Joseph Bologna, a fired police officer who struck a protester during racial justice protests in 2020.

Joseph Bologna, the former Philadelphia police officer who struck a Temple University with a baton during the George Floyd protests last year, has been charged again by the District Attorney's Office. 

A municipal court judge dismissed the initial charges against Bologna in January, saying prosecutors had failed to produce enough evidence that his use of force constituted a crime. 

District Attorney Larry Krasner said his office is following its "oath to seek justice" by refiling misdemeanor charges of simple assault, reckless endangerment and possession of an instrument of crime. 

"Philadelphians demand even-handed justice and we are trying our very best to give them exactly that," Krasner said Thursday. "Our oath to seek justice requires nothing less." 

John McNesby, the president of the Fraternal Order of the Police Lodge No. 5, called Krasner's actions politically-motivated, noting he is up for re-election this year. 

"This is not unexpected from a district attorney who craves media attention and is facing a primary challenge from inside his own party," McNesby said in a statement. "D.A. Krasner is clearly running away from his failed record over the past three years and this latest decision to re-charge this officer is not based on facts or evidence."

The local police union has given Bologna consistent support, even gathering to applaud when he first turned himself in last summer, and has repeatedly criticized Krasner, a progressive who has sought criminal justice reforms.

Bologna, 55, will have to appear in court March 15 for another preliminary hearing, the Inquirer reported. 

He initially was charged in June after a video showed him striking Evan Gorski, 21, with a baton during a protest in Center City. Gorski sustained head injuries that required staples and sutures. 

Gorski was detained by Philly police, but prosecutors declined to bring charges against the student. They instead charged Bologna. The police department suspended him with the intent to dismiss.

Bologna spent 31 years working for the department before he was terminated last year. 

A review of his work history showed a 2014 citation for failing to supervise narcotics officers who were accused of lying and theft. After he was reassigned to a West Philly tactical squad, his crew received numerous complaints of misconduct. 

The Philadelphia Police Department has faced its own scrutiny for its response to the racial justice demonstrations. Officers drew sharp criticism for deploying tear gas on protesters who gathered on I-676 and for fraternizing with an armed vigilante group in Fishtown. 

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