Police have launched an internal investigation after a video was posted online that shows an officer striking a woman twice in the face at a neighborhood party associated with the annual Puerto Rican Day parade in Philadelphia.
The 36-second video uploaded to YouTube and titled "Philadelphia Police Brutality" shows the woman crumpling to the ground after being struck Sunday in north Philadelphia. The woman appears to be bleeding from the mouth as she is led away in handcuffs.
Moments before the woman was hit, the video shows someone else throwing a liquid toward the officers. The woman was also seen spraying something from a can.
The woman, whose name was not released, was cited for disorderly conduct, said Officer Tanya Little, a police spokeswoman.
The officer in the video, identified as highway patrol supervisor Lt. Jonathan Josey, is eager to tell his side of the story to internal investigators because there is more to what happened than the video shows, said John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police.
"We're hoping that it's neither a whitewash nor a witch hunt," McNesby said at a news conference Monday. "At the end of the day, his actions will be questioned, but I believe they can be defended."
The daylong neighborhood party is largely attended by a different group from those who are at an earlier downtown parade, he said.
"There's a lot of tensions that are running high; there's a lot of arrests that are made," McNesby said. "Each year people are arrested, and things aren't pretty."
McNesby said that from what he understands about how things unfolded, police were trying to stop a driver who was "doing 360s" in the road.
"A guy was spinning wheels and burning tires in the middle of the (road), police are trying to stop it and ... as we're doing it, things are being thrown, liquids are being tossed" at the officers by several people, he said.
McNesby said officers during such instances don't know whether what's being thrown on them is simply water, or whether it's urine or chemicals, as has happened in the past.
"It's great to sit back and read it online and look at video and second-guess yourself and Monday morning quarterback," he said, "but again at the end of the day, we don't know what's coming at us."