Philadelphia police gathered to applaud Staff Inspector Joseph Bologna as he headed to turn himself in for bludgeoning a 21-year-old student protester.
The officer surrendered himself Monday to charges of aggravated assault that emerged after a viral video. In the clip, shared broadly on Twitter, Bologna can be seen striking a protester in the head with his baton.
The Temple University student that was struck, Evan Gorski, suffered “serious bodily injury,” according to District Attorney Larry Krasner. BuzzFeed News reports that the resulting injury to the head required around “10 staples and 10 sutures.”
Following the backlash the viral clip stirred up, Bologna surrendered himself to authorities Monday. More than 100 officers gathered outside Philadelphia’s Lodge 5 in a show of support for Bologna. They applauded and cheered as the officer, escorted by his lawyer and the police union head, made his way to district headquarters. When he arrived, a smaller crowd awaited to likewise cheer him on.
Before entering the 15th Police District, Bologna waved at the gathered crowd and shouted a quick “thank you” back to them, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw pulled Bologna from street duty last week. She promised a thorough investigation into the video of Bologna’s altercation with Gorski. Mere hours later, the district attorney announced that Bologna would be charged with a crime.
Police Union head John McNesby continues to assert that the video does not show Bologna striking Gorski in the head. Instead, he claims the baton struck the student in the shoulder, following with police policy.
Bologna was booked, arraigned, and ultimately released on a $10,000 unsecured bail. Eight hours after he entered the building, Bologna was quietly exiting the back door. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 25.
Some of Bologna’s fellow officers describe him as a widely respected officer. Videos revealing his apparently commonplace aggression toward protesters seem to negate this point, however. People who attended the protest noted that the officer’s actions were not in response to violence, looting, or rioting. Several officers and a city official who attended agreed. Bologna’s actions, to their eyes, were unnecessarily hostile. This appears to match up with several other videos that reveal consistently antagonistic reactions from the veteran cop.
Despite the evidence, officers close to Bologna are working hard to defend him. A GoFundMe, set up in Bologna’s name, has reportedly raised more than $22,000. The Fraternal Order of Police is also showing their support for Bologna through a fundraiser. They are selling $20 T-shirts with the union’s logo surrounded by the phrase “Bologna strong.”
On the other side, a Change.org petition, calling for Bologna to be fired, is going strong. It has collected 2,128 of its requested 2,500 signatures.
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H/T BuzzFeed News