Monday, September 28, 2020

Richie Ross On Joe Bologna Firing: 'Should Have Never Happened'

By Ralph Cipriano

Former Police Commissioner Richard Ross was watching video of the incident during an allegedly peaceful protest that got Staff Inspector Joe Bologna fired. 

Ross froze the video in the middle of the action and said it was obvious that Bologna never struck protester Evan Gorski in the head with his baton, as falsely alleged by District Attorney Larry Krasner.

"How did this unravel with his [Bologna's] career ending in an instant?" Ross asked. "That should have never happened." 

In an interview with Russell Kolins, a private investigator working for lawyers defending Bologna against criminal charges, Ross  ripped Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw for being missing in action on June 1st, the day of the protest on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway that got Bologna fired.

"When you've got volatile circumstances," Ross said, "You have to know that things are going to go badly . . . To me, if your people are there and they're being put in harm's way, how do you not put yourself in that same predicament and lead from the front?"

When the commanders are out there with the troops, Ross said, it instills a sense of confidence, and gives the troops an extra burst of energy.  

"If I was going to hell in a handbag, I was going to be there with the people," Ross said. 

Richie Ross has known Joe Bologna for thirty years. 

The former police commissioner said it was ironic that Bologna got in trouble for something that happened at a demonstration. Because, Ross said, Bologna was always the "go-to guy" for protests. He always kept his cool, had the ability to connect with people, and was strong on strategic and tactical planning, Ross said.

Ross described Bologna as an "on-the-ground guy" who always led the cops on bicycle patrols, because he had a way of ensuring that things never got out of control. 

"Irrespective of what the assignment is, whether it be temporary, in a protest, or every day in a command, Joe believed in rolling up his sleeves and getting out, interfacing with people," Ross said.

When Ross was first deputy commissioner, he assigned Bologna, who had just been promoted to captain, as commander of the 19th Police District in West Philadelphia. Ross recalled Councilman Curtis Jones reaching out to him, to express skepticism that Bologna, a white guy, would be able to relate to the predominantly minority residents in the 19th District.

A few years later, Ross said, there were rumors that Bologna was going to be moved. And Ross recalled that his phone blew up with calls from Councilman Jones and his chief of staff, begging Ross to keep Bologna in the 19th District.

In a letter of recommendation on behalf of Bologna, who was applying to the Center for Homeland Defense and Security's Naval Postgraduate School, Councilman Jones on Oct. 1, 2014, wrote that he was recommending Bologna for the program "with great enthusiasm and confidence in his abilities." 

Why? Because Bologna, Jones wrote, is a "friendly, high-energy individual" who brings "a great sincerity to policing," as well as "integrity to his precinct, officers and constituency."

What happened to change people's minds? People in the community, Ross said, saw Bologna out there every day, they saw his commitment. Ross recalled a time when he found Bologna in the kitchen of an elderly black woman, talking to her about issues in the community.

"That's just Joe," Ross said. "He wan't pretentious, he was serious. But at the same token, he was compassionate. He understood what people in that community were dealing with . . . He understood what they were trying to do. He got it."

"When you get a commander, white, black, male, female, who understands intuitively, what we're trying to do in terms of connecting with the community, not only understanding it intellectually, but they put it into practice, you've got a home run," Ross said. 

If Bologna needs some character witnesses at his criminal trial, according to the information gathered by private investigator Kolins, they're standing in line.

Apostle Jones, a pastor in West Philly, said in an interview that when Bologna took over the 19th District, Jones personally took Bologna door-to-door around the community to meet the neighbors.

Previously, there had been a sense of uneasiness between the cops and the community, Jones said. But when Bologna took over, it was the first time in 40 years that people in the neighborhood felt a connection with the police.

Jones said Bologna would show up for work at 5 a.m. every day, kept an open door, and never missed a community meeting. Bologna hosted Thanksgiving dinners to feed the hungry, and Christmas parties where they handed out gifts to kids. Jones said he often saw Bologna reach into his own pocket to help somebody out.

Bologna also met with high school gangbangers and talked to them about taking a different direction in life. It was Bologna's intervention during the 2013-14 school year, Jones said, that resulted in a ceasefire in the shootings that had been plaguing Overbrook High School.

Jones said he saw protests where people would throw things at Bologna and call him names, but he never saw Bologna retaliate.

"We are brothers," Jones said of Bologna. "I buried his father. His mother calls me her son. He had no biases."

Another witness who testified about the open door policy that Bologna had when he was commander of the 19th District said it literally was true.

"I can't remember one time when I had to knock on his door," said Victoria Goodin, a retired Philly cop who used to work in community relations when Bologna ran the 19th District.

The cops in that district didn't initially like Bologna when he took over, Goodin recalled, but Bologna won them over. When the veterans complained that the rookies didn't know what they were doing, Bologna told the vets, "Teach them."

As commander of the 19th, Goodin said, Bologna led a war on blight and graffiti by getting his officers to report unsafe and unsightly conditions to the Department of Licenses & Inspections, so L&I inspectors could write numerous code violations. It was a short-lived clean-up.

"The next captain that came in didn't care about these things and as soon as Bologna left, all of it went away," Goodin said. 

Frank Palumbo, a captain in the Philadelphia Police Department, was on his bicycle on June 1st, the second day of the George Floyd protests, and was an eyewitness to the altercation between Bologna and Gorski.

Gorski was a "pest," Palumbo recalled, who was all over the place. Palumbo was standing ten feet behind Bologna and watching as Gorski came toward Palumbo and another officer.  Palumbo put his arm out to block Gorski, as he was pushing the line of protesters back with his bicycle.

"That kid was relentless," Palumbo said about Gorski. "He was not just a skinny, peaceful college kid, he was there for problems." 

As far as an allegedly peaceful protest goes, Palumbo described the situation as a riot. A riot that led to Joe Bologna's firing, which went down in an unusual way.

The normal protocol for any officer accused of misconduct is to wait for the Police Department's Internal Affairs Bureau to complete an investigation, and forward the results of that investigation to the D.A.'s charging unit. So the D.A. can make a decision on whether to charge the cop with a crime.

But when it came to the case of Bologna, accused of striking a Temple University student with his nightstick during a demonstration, Krasner dispensed with the usual protocol. 

It famously took Krasner's office five weeks to get around to charging all three accused killers of Corporal James O'Connor. But when it came to the case of alleged brutality by Staff Inspector Bologna, Krasner moved with lightning speed.

A day after a video of alleged brutality hit the Inquirer and YouTube, Krasner announced his intention to charge Bologna with felony aggravated assault. The prosecution was based on an amazingly quick investigation conducted by Sgt. Gerald Rocks Jr., interim head of the D.A.'s detectives, who declined comment.

Bologna, 54, chief of operations for the department's bicycle patrol bureau, was taken off the street hours after videos of alleged police brutality starring the staff inspector hit the media. Bologna was ordered to turn himself in and face charges of aggravated assault.

"We are trying to be fair," Krasner claimed in a statement to the media. "Accountability has to be equal, and this moment demands a swift and evenhanded response to violent and criminal acts."

But was it fair, or just the D.A. talking in typical Orwellian speak in his lust to indict a cop?

Krasner and Bologna have a history. When Krasner was a defense lawyer who sued the police department 75 times, Krasner represented many drug dealers who had been arrested by Bologna's officers, when Bologna was head of the Eastern Division of the police department's Narcotics Field Unit.

As the D.A. who charged Bologna, Krasner also immediately dropped the charges against Gorski, 21, the Temple student accused of attacking a police officer. Gorski, according to the D.A., needed 10 staples and 10 sutures to close his head wound. But some people, citing a lack of evidence, have their doubts about that story told by Krasner.

Gorski was accused of assaulting a police officer by pushing Frank Palumbo, who at the time, along with Bologna, was coming to the aid of a fellow bicycle cop who had been pushed down to the ground by other protesters, and broke his hand. 

The chaotic video involving Gorski and Bologna shows that Gorski appears to be interfering with an arrest of another demonstrator who during the peaceful protest had sprayed a couple of cops with a bottle of urine. Bologna was trying to defend the officer, seen lying on the ground in the video, when he raised his nightstick to attack Gorski.

While Bologna is seen in the video moving toward Gorski to tackle him, another demonstrator is clearly seen spraying Bologna with urine all over his shirt. While Gorski is on the ground, he's also clearly seen throwing a collapsible baton known as an ASP into the crowd. An ASP that Gorski had stolen from Bologna.

When Bologna was swinging his baton at Gorski, Gorski appeared to duck, and was struck, either in his backpack, or in the area of his arm and shoulder, by Bologna. Under department guidelines that would have been a permissible use of force.

When retired Deputy Commissioner Joseph Sullivan was interviewed by Kolins, he stated that he didn't put much faith in the tale told by the district attorney.

"We've got a D.A. that is trying to frame cops every chance he gets," Sullivan said. And when Sullivan saw the video of the altercation between Bologna and Gorski, he had even more doubts about Krasner's story line.

"I know it's said that this individual took staples and stitches," Sullivan said, "but it's been my experience that when people are struck in the head that they bleed a lot and they bleed immediately, and I noticed there was no blood in the video."

Also in the video, after Bologna tackled Gorski and pinned him on the ground for several moments, there's no blood visible on Borski, nor is there any blood visible on Bologna's shirt. 

"I also noticed that [Gorksi] had taken Joe's ASP off of him and tried, or did push it off to another protester," Sullivan said. "There was obvious resistance. I don't see where the video is consistent with the District Attorney's version of events."

Sullivan described Bologna as a national expert in the use of bikes during demonstrations. Historically, Sullivan said, cops on bikes are the backbone of any police response to a demonstration, because bike patrols prevent violence by creating a barrier.

Bologna took the use of the bicycle patrols to a new level during Pope Francis's visit to Philadelphia, Sullivan said, when patrols led by Bologna were used to keep crowds away from the pope. 

Sullivan, who used to handle police response to demonstrations, also gave private investigator Kolins a scathing critique of the way the incompetent Kenney administration handled the George Floyd protests.

Sullivan said that the cops on duty on Saturday March 31st, the first day of the protests, never met previously to discuss the rules of engagement, and specifically, what should be done if the protesters took over the highways.

Sullivan said that the incident that Bologna was involved in, as well as the incident where the protesters blocked the Vine Street Expressway, were anything but peaceful. And that the chaos that ensued was the result of poor planning by the cops.

On the Vine Street Expressway, Sullivan said, cops were thrown into something at the last minute and were told to respond to a situation where they had insufficient numbers.

The cops that responded to the shutdown of the Vine Street Expressway by the protesters should have had bikes with them, and they should have been part of a full detail, Sullivan said. Any Philadelphia commander who saw the video of the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis should have been prepared for the riots that ensued in Philadelphia, Sullivan said.

In addition, all week long, Sullivan said, there were protests around the country, attacks on police, and Antifa was involved. But sadly, the Philadelphia Police Department under the direction of Mayor Kenney's handpicked rookie police commissioner, Danielle Outlaw, did nothing to prepare. Before the protests in Philly began, Sullivan said, it should have been all hands on deck.

The commanders should have told the troops, "You're a cop, you got a pulse, be in uniform, and be there," Sullivan said. The state police should have been given advance notice that they would be needed, and the Philadelphia police commanders should have arranged transportation for the troops.

Instead, on Game Day, Philadelphia city officials were frantically trying to commandeer Septa buses while the city was burning, Sullivan said.

"They were throwing cops in police cars and then the police cars were getting trapped," Sullivan said. "There was just no logistical planning and that's the point of internal meetings so that you can have a plan and then don't have police cars burning."

"The police cars that got burned shouldn't have even been there," Sullivan said. "Everybody knows [you] don't let police cars get blocked. . . The state police then have to come in and assist officers and they don't know what they're walking into. And then, the next thing you know, troopers' cars are on fire."

When Sullivan heard former city Managing Director Brian Abernathy testify before City Council, Sullivan said it appeared that Abernathy was calling the shots regarding police response to the George Floyd protests.

Sullivan said he never heard of a city managing director getting involved in something on that high of a level regarding the police department, such as tactical responses to demonstrations. 

Abernathy is the former theater major and clueless incompetent managing director under Kenney who famously told the Inquirer after the George Floyd riots, looting and arson fires were over that he never realized how "out of touch" he was with the "anger and frustration of folks I'm hired to serve."

During the protests, Sullivan said, on police radio, supervisors were clearly heard telling cops not to respond to looters.

"Anyone can listen to that," Sullivan said about police radio broadcasts. "Once you send a message that looting is not going to be responded to by the police, social media is our enemy. It does not take long for that to travel everywhere."

Police Commissioner Outlaw told the Inquirer that when she read the orders of how the cops were supposed to respond to the protests, it was late at night, too late to respond. Sullivan speculated that Outlaw was being pressured by Abernathy to hold police overtime costs down because of budget concerns. 

Sullivan said the original orders on how to control the protests should have been changed on short notice. And if people didn't like that they were woken up in the middle of the night, well, that was just too bad. 

Sullivan said that if he had ever said something similar to what Outlaw said, that it was too late to wake the troops and change the orders, he would have been fired on the spot by former Police Commissioner Ross.

On May 31st, the first day of the riots, all the cops on the day shift should have never been allowed to go home, Sullivan said. 

"There was a bad plan for Saturday and then there was no plan for Sunday, which is unconscionable," Sullivan said. 

The effects of that disaster may be far-reaching. Regarding future demonstrations in Philadelphia, Sullivan said, don't expect cops from surrounding counties to show up and help out.

"They've already made that clear," Sullivan said about surrounding police departments. "We've got a D.A. that is trying to frame cops every chance he gets, so they are not going to expose their people to being arrested for just doing their job."

Why would they after what happened to Joe Bologna?

On June 1st, the second day of the George Floyd riots, protesters who had just blocked the Vine Street Expressway were teargassed by the cops. To escape, the protesters climbed up an embankment under the 22nd Street overpass, broke through a section of an eight-foot fence near the Park Towne Place Apartments on the Parkway, and attacked police.

All during that peaceful protest.

Staff Inspector Bologna led a squad of bicycle cops over to the Parkway, to defend the cops under attack.

"You've got a guy like Joe that engages with violent protesters," Sullivan said. "He has to use force, and make an arrest. And then he has to move on to the next situation because of poor planning and lack of resources."

"It's terrible to think about the position he's in," Sullivan said of Bologna, who lost his job and his facing criminal charges. "He's just such a dedicated guy."

Russ Kolins said he had essentially retired as a private investigator to become a security consultant and teacher at the University of Louisville. But he came out of retirement to investigate the allegations against Bologna, as well as Bologna's background.

"The facts speak for themselves," Kolins said. "The video is the best evidence and clearly exculpates the staff inspector."

[Those videos are posted below, first, in real time and then a slow-motion version. Try watching them in full screen. Gorski, wearing an Eagles jersey, a ponytail and a large back pack, is clearly seen interfering with Bologna, and stealing his baton. It's also clear, as Ross said, that Bologna never struck Borski in the head. There's also no visible evidence that Gorski is bleeding, as claimed by District Attorney Krasner.]

As far as Bologna's background goes, Kolins said he's personally talked with police commanders, politicians, educators, community leaders, clergy and people in the community who were served by Bologna.

"At the end of the day, if Mr. Bologna became police commissioner, the city would rejoice because of his leadership, skills, fairness and compassion for everyone," Kolins said. "Some people I interviewed referred to him as a saint!"

But on Oct. 9th, when Bologna is scheduled to appear in Common Pleas Court for a preliminary hearing in his criminal case, rest assured, that's not how the D.A.'s office plans to portray Bologna.

Fortunately for Bologna, the D.A.'s office under Krasner is so incompetent -- and Bologna's lawyers, Fortunato Perri and Brian McMonagle are so good -- that my prediction is Bologna walks. 


  1. This is a bad, bad scene in this town. If anyone would ask me, I'd take us back maybe 150 years ago, or merely to a parallel universe, and I'd have Kenney, Krasner, Outlaw, and anyone working for the Philadelphia Inquirer swinging in the gallows. This scene going on is reality, it ain't right, and we all know it.

  2. Can't you see Lying Larry has a vendetta against police. He asked for the case against Pownall back from the State Attorney General office because they were going decline charges and find the shooting justified. Now he's trying to retro actively change the law against Pownall. There should riots for that. He falsely arrested 4 police officers recently and his prosecutor ADA Tripp got laughed out of court. Based on the evidence, who would think it's anything different? The cops are aware of it and refuse to be proactive with type of environment.

  3. Ross and Sullivan supporting Bologna... A true example of leading from the front! That's the type of leadership that the city needs.

  4. Sounds like someone's gonna have a lawsuit against the city.

  5. Its Absolutely disgusting what these voters in this city put into office.A DA who Hates cops, a clueless PC and a all I want is criminal votes mayor. Bologna needs to jump on a lawsuit like all the other cops are doing. If martina white gets her way we'll be able to recall all of them from office.

  6. I hope Joe comes back to work real quick after Oct 9th. and then shoves it up their asses!! Sue everyone!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. In the Brief but Poignant Clip that you posted Ralph, it is clear that the insurrectionists were engaged in combat with the Uniformed Law Enforcement.

    If Commissioner Outlaw wishes to side with the criminal loving scum DA Krasner, then she should be totally eviscerated by the Rank and File and she should then face criminal and civil charges after this sham prosecution of Inspector Bologna is discharged.

    When a Cop is attacked he should be allowed to respond with the force that the wise old former Mayor and Police Commissioner Rizzo recited"...spaco di capo."

  8. It is time we start protecting our Law Enforcement Officers with Attorneys that are Constitutional Rights with years of experience, and graduate of noted universities such as Harvard. I feel our great Shield and Square should spearhead this law enforcement protection, and start counter suits and take all our discrimination, prejudice firing, DA arrest and filing of criminal charges straight to the United States Supreme Court. THERE MUST BE A COMMITTEE FORMED TO SOLICIT, MONEY, FROM ALL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS, AND CIVILLIAN POPULATION TO BUILD SUCH A FUND IN THE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, TO SUE, AND FIGHT UNJUST CRIMINAL CHARGES. IN MY PERSONAL OPINION THE FOP IS MORE POLITICAL,TO FANNY KISSING POLITICIANS WHO CARE NOTHING BUT GETTING CIVILLIAN VOTES,THAN SHARKS TO PROTECT OUR LAW ENFORCEMENT COMMUNITY. We have been getting screwed enough by the politicians. Ron C. Tyger

  9. I don't think Mr. Bologna was treated fairly, however, a portion, a large portion is the police departments fault, for openly engaging in croynism, nepotism, and favoritism. When an organization endorses that type of environment, it leaves a guy like Bologna to the whim of chance. And Mr. Ross? Don't make me laugh.

  10. Bologna should bankrupt this city w his lawsuit. Krasner is the real criminal! This is a travesty of justice.

  11. Ralph you always tell it like it is!

  12. The hearing scheduled for Friday, 10-9-2020 was not reported in the media. The case seems to have disappeared. Any news on what happened? If it was postponed, why? Defense or prosecution request?

  13. The same DA postponed Msgr Lynn's trial (double jeopardy!) to March 2021 . The DA saw what a comedy of a preliminary hearing the case against Joseph Bologna was turning into and asked for an indefinite postponement. Like the Lynn case, the Bologna case will be continued indefinitely until Bologna files for retirement to "protect" his retirement. He could be carried indefinitely in this category until Krasner leaves office if he loses the election.

    1. The same thing will happen to the SWAT officer whose preliminary has yet to happen unless I am wrong

  14. Krasner should be disbarred. Is this not malicious prosecution?


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