A judge acquitted a former Philadelphia police lieutenant accused of assaulting a Hispanic woman during the city's Puerto Rican Day parade.
A video of Lt. Jonathan Josey punching the woman, 40-year-old Aida Guzman, in the face went viral last year. The victim's lawyer called the decision "an injustice to the Puerto Rican-Hispanic community."
In a jury-free trial, Municipal Judge Patrick Dugan ruled on Tuesday that Josey was not guilty of simple assault. Josey was fired from the police department shortly after the Sept. 30th incident, following public outrage over the video.
Dugan said he was "shocked" by it but said the media "sensationalized" the incident and the "infamous" video clip did not capture the entirety of what happened. The decision was met with loud applause in the courtroom filled with police officers, according to the The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Guzman was described by the newspaper as fighting back tears and did not comment following the court decision.
But reaction to the ruling was swift.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said he was outraged by the verdict. He said he watched the video "at least 20-some-odd times," and called Dugan's decision “disturbing and beyond comprehension.”
“Anyone can see the officer punched the lady in the face in a purposeful fashion,” Nutter said, according to the CBS Philadelphia local affiliate.
Josey testified on February 12 that the woman refused to drop a bottle of beer she had been holding, and that he only intended to knock the beer on the ground and not hit her in the face. However, Guzman testified in Spanish, and with the help of a translator, that the hit to her mouth was intentional.
“It’s obvious from looking at the video that this was an intentional act,” said Guzman's lawyer, Enrique Latoison, to the CBS affiliate. “The officer took three steps toward my client and then slugged her in the face.
He called the ruling an injustice.
"It was an injustice to Ms. Guzman, it was an injustice to the Puerto Rican-Hispanic community," the attorney said outside the courtroom.
Latoison also said he is suing Josey, has contacted the Department of Justice and may file civil rights charges against the former police officer.
Josey, on the other hand, said he wants his job back. The Philadelphia Police Department has not commented on whether they will rehire him.
The 19-year department veteran even took to Facebook to celebrate the judge's decision, changed his name to "Jonathan ManofSteel Josey," and posted a photo of himself in what the The Philadelphia Inquirer described as a "triumphant pose."
At least one Puerto Rican group expressed outrage, and asked the Hispanic community to act with their votes.
"Judges are elected officials," Iris Violeta Colon Torres, former president of the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women said to the Inquirer. "The community needs to start registering to vote; they need to go out and vote and know who they are voting for."