THE CITY HAD the right to deny a promotion for a Philadelphia police lieutenant - accused and acquitted of hitting a woman at a Puerto Rican parade - a common pleas judge has ruled.
Jonathan Josey, a 23-year veteran of the department, has been caught up in legal matters since 2012, when a video of him appearing to strike a woman following the parade went viral and he was fired.
The Dec. 21 ruling in the city's favor means Josey will remain at the lieutenant level in the department's investigations unit.
"We are pleased with the ruling and appreciate the attention given the matter by Judge Carpenter," city spokesman Mike Dunn said.
John McGrody, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5, said the union already has taken steps to appeal the decision.
"We've said from day one he did absolutely nothing wrong. This whole incident was political in nature, and we don't believe the city should have ever denied him the promotion," McGrody said. "We'll appeal to any court in the land."
McGrody said he thinks people misunderstood what went on in the video.
"People got outraged and they decided what the video depicted, and they're stuck on that story; they're never going to get off that story. That's why we're going to stand side by side with Josey," he said.
Following the release of the video, Josey was charged with conduct unbecoming under the department's disciplinary code.
He claimed he was trying to knock a beer out of the woman's hand, not hit her, when she fell to the ground during the 2012 parade. (The woman, Aida Guzman, filed a federal lawsuit and later received a $75,000 settlement from the city.)
Josey was acquitted and an arbitrator ruled he should get his job back, with back pay, and that the whole episode should be removed from his personnel record.
He went on to make headlines in 2014 for saving a family from a fire in South Philadelphia.
The parade incident resurfaced when Josey was passed over for a promotion to captain in March.
The FOP challenged the department's decision and an arbitrator ruled in the union's favor, calling on the city to promote Josey. The city appealed.
In its legal brief, the union argued the city unjustly used the parade incident in denying the promotion, as the arbitrator had ordered the disciplinary action stemming from the case be expunged.
The city countered that the commissioner had discretion to consider the incident.
The city also argued that the eligible list for promotion that included Josey expired one month before his promotion was awarded.
McGrody said he spoke on Tuesday morning with Josey, who did not return requests for comment.
"He's greatly disappointed; he's not surprised, but he is still going to work every day and doing his job."