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Philadelphia police inspector charged with assaulting protestor suspended with 'intent to dismiss'

The Philadelphia Police Department on Tuesday suspended a high-ranking officer and announced its intention to dismiss him after he surrendered to charges of assaulting a protester at a demonstration held in response to the death of George Floyd. 

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw suspended Staff Inspector Joseph Bologna for 30 days with "intent to dismiss," a spokesperson told The Hill. 

A spokesperson told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the suspension was a procedural step the department takes when an officer is charged with a crime. The department did not comment on whether Bologna would be reinstated if the charges against him are dropped or if he is found not guilty. 

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Bologna on Monday turned himself in after being accused of aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person and other crimes. The charges were filed by Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner on Friday after video surfaced on social media showing Bologna strike a Temple University student with a police baton and then tackle him to the ground at a demonstration on Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. 

The clip, which was shared widely across social media, prompted Outlaw to announce an internal investigation into Bologna's behavior. Prosecutors also said in a statement that the student struck by Bologna suffered "serious bodily injury, including a large head wound that required treatment in a hospital while under arrest, including approximately 10 staples and approximately 10 sutures."

The student had been arrested and detained for a day following the incident, though prosecutors declined to charge him after reviewing video and other evidence from the scene, they said. 

Since the incident, Bologna has faced accusations of using excessive force in other instances against protesters. One protester who was arrested and restrained with zip ties on June 1 alleged that Bologna twisted her fingers so aggressively she thought he might break them, according to the Inquirer. 

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But despite the accusations, the Philadelphia police union has fiercely defended Bologna against what it calls the district attorney's "anti-police agenda." Dozens of officers cheered and applauded the staff inspector as he departed a Fraternal Order of Police lodge to surrender to charges. 

The union is also selling shirts with "Bologna Strong" emblazoned across the front. 

 John McNesby, president of the FOP Lodge 5, has held that Bologna was engaged in a "volatile" situation with only "milliseconds to make a decision."

"Along with arsonists, looters and thieves, Krasner is complicit in the destruction of our great city," he said after charges were filed, vowing to "vigorously defend Bologna against these baseless allegations."