The Delaware County woman who was at the center of a controversial police “sucker
punch” that made headlines after the incident was caught on cellphone video has filed a federal civil rights suit against the City of Philadelphia and the former police lieutenant who was subsequently fired for his actions.
Lawyers representing Chester resident Aida Guzman filed suit on her behalf Jan. 31 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The former high-ranking police officer named in the civil action is Jonathan Josey, who resides in Northwest Philadelphia.
Guzman, according to the complaint, was attending the Puerto Rican Day Parade and celebration in Philadelphia on Sept. 30 last year when she was “smashed” in the face with a closed fist by Josey, who had been working crowd control during the event.
The assault occurred after an unidentified male threw liquid in the direction of Josey and other officers.
The problem, the lawsuit states, is that Josey’s back was turned toward the male at the time, and Josey may have mistakenly believed Guzman was responsible for the liquid tossing.
After being doused with the liquid, Josey ran in Guzman’s direction and punched her in the face.
The incident was popularized through a cellphone video that was subsequently posted online; it eventually led to Josey’s firing from the Philadelphia Police Department.
“Defendant Josey’s brutal assault on, and arrest of, Plaintiff was captured on video and was so shocking that local and national news outlets broadcast the video, causing Plaintiff to sustain humiliation and/or emotional distress above and beyond that which is sustained by a typical criminal defendant,” the complaint reads.
The lawsuit says that prior to the incident, the city had received numerous other complaints from citizens alleging that Josey had verbally and/or physically abused them.
“Despite Defendant Philadelphia’s prior actual knowledge of Defendant Josey’s repeated abuse, Defendant Philadelphia did not take any and/or appropriate measures to protect its citizens from the continued abuse of Defendant Josey,” the suit states.
As a result of the incident, the complaint alleges, Guzman was subjected to derogatory comments from the public, causing her further emotional distress.
Josey’s employment with the police department was terminated on Oct. 4 of last year.
A month-and-a-half later, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams lodged simple assault charges against the former police lieutenant.
Online court records show Josey is scheduled for a waiver trial at Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court on Feb. 12.
The Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police chapter threw its support behind Josey after his firing, saying the termination was not warranted in this case.
Josey was a decorated 19-year veteran of the department before his ouster.
“We’re going to war on this one,” John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, told the Philadelphia Inquirer back in October. “We’re not only going to fight it, we’re going to win.”
The FOP even reportedly threw a “beef and beer” benefit party in Josey’s honor at a popular Philadelphia bar after his firing, local media previously reported.
Guzman’s federal lawsuit contains counts of excessive force, false arrest and imprisonment, municipal liability, assault and battery, and civil rights claims.
After her initial arrest, Guzman was charged with disorderly conduct, but the charge was later dropped by the District Attorney’s Office.
Guzman seeks more than $150,000 in both compensatory and punitive damages, along with interest, costs and attorney’s fees.
She is being represented by attorneys J. Patrick Hickey and Katherine H. Meehan, of the Media, Pa. firm Raffaele & Puppio.
The federal case number is 2:13-cv-00566-JP.