Philly police officers clash with protesters during a protest in June 2020 Credit: Screenshot via Twitter / @Peopledelphia

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A former Philadelphia police inspector who was arrested during last summer’s protests after beating a Temple University student with a baton has been cleared of criminal charges, a judge ruled on Friday.

District Attorney Larry Krasner’s office immediately vowed to refile charges in another court.

Former PPD Staff Inspector Joseph Bologna came under fire last June when he was caught on camera striking 21-year-old Evan Gorski during a skirmish with protesters on the Ben Franklin Parkway. Bologna was fired shortly after Krasner pressed charges.

At a preliminary hearing Friday morning, Municipal Court Judge Henry Lewandowski III threw out the case based on a lack of evidence that the baton use amounted to a crime, according to court records.

Charges against Bologna included simple assault, reckless endangerment and possessing an instrument of a crime. But the Friday ruling in Municipal Court may not spell the end of the road for the veteran commander.

District Attorney Larry Krasner’s office said prosecutors plan to refile charges in the Court of Common Pleas within 30 days.

“We fully intend to pursue this case to a just conclusion,” the DA said in a statement.

Bologna’s arrest drew widespread criticism from police officials. Supporters threw together T-shirts and social media messages that read “Bologna Strong.” Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 President John McNesby called Bologna one of the city’s “most decorated and respected police leaders,” and cast his arrest as part of Krasner’s “anti-police agenda in Philadelphia.”

Krasner maintained that charging Bologna was a matter of even-handed accountability and holding police to the same standards as civilians. Bologna, 54, has a history of misconduct and ties to past police scandals.

During the weekend of the assault, hundreds of protesters were detained on a variety of charges. Bologna’s case drew more national attention to the city shortly after police had tear-gassed a group of trapped demonstrators on the Vine Street Expressway.

Bologna’s attorneys, Brian McMonagle and Fortunato Perri Jr., did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

McMonagle, whose high-profile clients have included Meek Mill and Bill Cosby, appeared outside the courthouse after the case was dismissed.

“This destruction of his life and his career should have never occurred,” McMonagle said about Bologna, according to the Inquirer. “And we’re just happy today that justice was done for him and his family.”

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Max Marin (he/him) was Billy Penn's investigative reporter from 2018 to 2021. A graduate of Temple University, he has produced award-winning journalism on local politics, criminal justice, immigration...