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Police chiefs are investigating an incident, captured on cell phone video, in which a woman was struck by an officer at the Festival de las Americas after the city's Puerto Rican Day Parade.
The video shows several police officers at Sunday's festival amid a crowd of people. The woman, identified as Aida Guzman of Chester, Pa., is shown being hit by one of the officers and falls to the ground.
"You only see one vantage point, but what you do see is disturbing, I have to be honest about that," said Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Ross.
The incident happened near 5th and Lehigh streets in North Philadelphia, after the parade on the parkway. Parade organizers say they had nothing to do with the North Philadelphia event. Officials say Guzman was spraying silly string at officers involved in a traffic stop.
"The guy was out there spinning wheels and burning up tires in the middle of the highway, which is not normal. And we're out there to make sure that stopped. As we're doing it, things are being thrown, liquids are being tossed, substances being sprayed from a can," says Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby.
Guzman was cited for disorderly conduct. Her face was bleeding as officers took her away. She told NBCPhiladelphia.com: "I feel angry, very angry. I go to someplace, got a good time and look this happen, for no reason."
Philadelphia police confirm the officer involved in the incident is Lt. Jonathan Josey. Josey has been with the department for more than 17 years and is a decorated supervisor with the Highway Patrol. He is now on administrative duty.
Internal Affairs is investigating the incident, according to police. The FOP says it will defend Josey "to the end." McNesby said people often throw things such as bleach and urine at officers, and urged people not to judge the incident based on the video alone.
Lt. Josey has made headlines before. He was exonerated in the shooting death of a Philadelphia man shortly after the man robbed a convenience store in Lower Merion in March 2010.
In July 2010, Lt. Josey was stabbed in the back while trying to break up a fight outside a West Philadelphia bar.
The executive director of Concilio, which organizes the parade every year, called on police to fully investigate the incident.
"While we have no knowledge of what led to the incident, it is clear from the video that a police officer unnecessarily and brutally struck a woman in the face," the statement read. "Even as we celebrate the tremendous advancements of Philadelphia’s Hispanic community over the decades, we cannot overlook this episode. We call on the Philadelphia Police Department to fully investigate and take appropriate action."
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