PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Charges have been dismissed against a Philadelphia police officer who was accused of striking a protester in the head with a metal baton during a racial injustice demonstration.

Police Staff Inspector Joseph Bologna, 54, was suspended after a video showed him hitting the protester last June. But a judge ruled Friday that prosecutors had not presented enough evidence to establish that Bologna’s use of his baton amounted to a crime.

“This is really a great victory for those people like Inspector Bologna, who risked their lives for strangers, which is what he was doing,” attorney Brian McMonagle said outside court after the counts were dismissed. “This destruction of his life and his career should have never occurred. And we’re just happy today that justice was done for him and his family.”

Bologna, a 30-year member of the force, left the courthouse without commenting. Police officials had suspended him with intent to dismiss, but his attorneys said Friday that he now has the option to seek full reinstatement. He has not yet decided.

“Justice must be applied equally and in an even-handed manner,” District Attorney Larry Krasner said in a statement issued Friday. “No one is above the law. We fully intend to pursue this case to a just conclusion.”

Bologna’s attorney had earlier said his actions justified because the protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis had turned violent.


Bologna, 54, had been charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, and possession of an instrument of crime.

Video that circulated widely on social media showed Bologna hitting a 21-year-old Temple University student in the head and neck area with a baton during a June protest. The student was knocked to the ground, and another officer put a knee on him to keep him down.

Authorities have said the protester’s injuries required staples and stitches. He was initially arrested but was later released, and charges against him were dropped.