New York City did not fire Anthony Bologna, the police officer who became internet-infamous for pepper spraying protesters in the early days of the Occupy Wall Street protests, but it sure doesn't have his back, either. As The Wall Street Journal's Sean Gardiner points out, faced with two lawsuits from those he sprayed, the city has declined to provide legal representation for Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, who the police department already disciplined by docking him vacation time. Refusing to pay for his lawyer won't have a huge effect on Bologna's fate -- his union, the Captains Endowment Association, is paying for his defense instead -- but it sends a very distinct message that the city does not stand behind its officer.
Of the thousands of civil rights cases filed against the NYPD over the last five years (1,376 are pending now), the city has only declined to pay the legal fees for about 5 percent of those, WSJ's Gardiner notes. A city lawyer told Gardiner the city is only required to defend those carrying out their official duties and not breaking any rules. Bologna has said all along that he didn't intend to spray the women standing behind an orange police net, and his lawyer repeated that claim to Gardiner, adding that his action had been taken out of context. But the city's refusal to back him legally, combined with the administrative discipline the NYPD has already handed down, suggest officials think he acted inappropriately. Let's take a look at the videos of Bologna's pepper-spraying, for old time's sake:
First he got famous for spraying these protesters standing behind orange netting:
Then a few days later another video surfaced of him apparently spraying a reporter:
And then, of course, there was Jon Stewart's pilot, The Vigilogna.