Witnesses: Man Punches Woman After Northern Liberties 2nd Street Fest

Witnesses wanted arrest. Victim didn’t.


UPDATE: Internal Affairs is investigating police response to this incident. For the full story, go here.


Sunday night was a festive one in Northern Liberties. The sixth-annual 2nd Street Festival brought in thousands of people for bands, beers, and cool food and craft vendors. A fun time was had by all — at least until the party was wrapping up.

According to multiple witnesses, at approximately 11 p.m. on 2nd Street between Brown and Poplar streets, the man seen in this photo punched a woman in the face, sending her to the ground bloody and screaming.

“From out of nowhere, he decked her,” says Andy Molholt, a Philadelphia artist and musician who was helping friends break down their vending booth when the alleged assault occurred. “We had heard them fighting, and she said something about him hitting her in the past. Then she tried to push him away, and he hit her. It was the hardest I’ve ever seen someone punched in the face.”

Several people saw the punch occur.

“She fell to the ground screaming,” says another witness, who asked to remain anonymous. “And then he just nonchalantly walks away. We went to aid her. She was very drunk and crying a lot, and she was bleeding from the face.”

Molholt followed the man and called 911 at 11:08 p.m. He called again at 11:14 p.m. And then again at 11:18 p.m. Finally, he turned on his phone’s videocamera and began questioning the man.

He asked him for his name several times. Eventually, the man said his name was Josephine. Then he told Molholt that he spent the night playing Parcheesi and eating anchovies, slurring his words.

“Your girlfriend is giving a police report right now,” Molholt told him. “And I hope you get fucked.”

Here’s the full video:

Eventually, police arrived at the scene. According to Molholt and other witnesses, police said that their hands were tied because the woman did not want to press charges.

“Because they were a couple, it changed the way they were handling it,” he says. “Even though you have three people calling the cops. Why does it matter that they’re a couple? Just because they are having sex or are married means he can hit her? This was horrible and wrong. I mean, there were at least three witnesses who called 911.”

But not everyone agrees that an arrest should have been automatic.

“Most victims advocates think that mandatory arrests and prosecutions are really bad in domestic violence cases,” says Carol Tracy, executive director of Philadelphia’s Women’s Law Project and co-chair of the city’s Domestic Violence Law Enforcement Task Force. “When it’s intimate partner violence, there are so many complexities around it.”

Tracy says that while there have been some notable prosecutions in domestic violence cases where the victim has not cooperated or testified, they are very rare.

“There may be a very good reason why a woman wouldn’t want him picked up,” says Tracy. “It could be for her safety. You could be putting her in even greater danger when he gets out on bail in 48 hours. She knows better than anybody how dangerous he might be.”

Police public affairs said on Monday that they were unaware of the incident in question. On Tuesday morning they told us they’d be looking into it.

Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter.

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  • phillysportsfan

    It sucks but this is one of those situations you can’t get involved in. I remember like 25 years ago a friend of mine was a bartender. one night coming out of work he sees a girl getting beat up by her boyfriend or husband. my friend tries to intervene and winds up with both the guy and the girl attacking him.

    no one deserves to be abused, but it’s hard not to think that women who allowed it to happen after the first time aren’t complicit.

    • donnydringle

      No dude, just no.

    • A Harris


    • Michelle Piacentini Kao

      Really? No. That girl could have attached your friend bc if she didn’t she might have got worst when she got home. You do not know what might happen. If a man is willing to do that in public God only knows what he might do behind close doors. You should be ashamed of yourself. Woman of abuse most of the time are abused at home or bullied and by the time it gets to that point that’s all they know.

      • phillysportsfan

        fine, let them be abused. they like it or deserve it or feel like they deserve it. whatever, who cares? i’m not ashamed of myself at all. i don’t abuse anyone and don’t allow myself to be abused. those that do either should be ashamed of themselves. but don’t expect me to be.

        • A Harris

          You should be ashamed of yourself. You have no idea what you’re talking about.

        • aresniccc

          You are a disgusting human being.

    • M. M. B.

      Wow. This post is an EPIC fail. You had one friend in one situation 25 years ago and you’ve concluded that women who “allowed it to happen” are complicit? F-

    • aresniccc

      Oh my god please just go away and never ever come back to society. People like you are part of the problem.

  • The Real Richard Cranium

    You are a complete and utter coward to ever lay your hands on a woman. I don’t care if you are both drunk, you still have enough common sense that you are crossing the line. If she hits you, you walk away. I knew someone that was being abused by the their husband. One of my friends caught wind of it, showed up at the house non-chalantly and threw the guy through glass. Suffice to say, the scumbag never hit the woman again, but she took a while before she left the situation. There are all kinds of psychological reasons where both men and women stay in abusive relationships and unless, we are there, we can’t say that it is their fault for staying.

  • A Harris

    I witnessed what took place before this man put his hands on this woman that Sunday night. Four of my friends and I saw this couple arguing outside of my home (as did police officers), at 2nd and Poplar, and watched it escalate to shouting. Soon after the shouting began, the couple walked away from my house towards Brown Street. Then, we heard her screaming – by the second or third sceam a group of about ten police officers on bicycles rode by and overheard me say “oh my god, why is she screaming like that?!” One of the officers replied, rather crudely and sarcastically, “because she’s DRUNK!” My friends and I were appalled at both the remark and what happened next – they continued to ride AWAY from the screams and toward Girard Avenue. This morning someone sent me this article and I was saddened to read what happened. The screams my friends, the officers and myself heard were that of this girl being hit. I’m disgusted by the actions of this man, but also by the Philadelphia police officers who chose to ride away instead of turning their bikes around to make sure every thing was okay. Just because someone, male or female, is intoxicated doesn’t justify a man or woman of the law not doing their job. I am disappointed in myself too, as I did not go and make sure this woman was safe and okay. At this point, I am unsure of what options I have as it is incredible difficult to complain about law “enforcers” to law “enforcers”.

    • Michele G Rogers

      Could you identify those officers? I would call the police department & complain. I would also write a local news outlet to share your experience. Our cops are getting worse & worst.

      • A Harris

        I am currently discussing options amongst the people I was with. I believe I could at least identify the officer who yelled out that the girl was drunk/justified not going back to check on her. My concern is attempting to complain about police officers to police officers – that doesn’t usually go well.

    • Andy Molholt

      Hey; this perspective is really important. I am going to keep following up on this. A Harris – would you be down to contact me direct to talk further? I am on Facebook.

      • A Harris

        Absolulely, I will look you up now.

  • Anonymous

    Can this article please focus more on the police’s response to this type of thing. As a recent victim of ssault myself, I’ve had the misfortune of experiencing a police officer shrugging his shoulders at me while my broken nose bled profusely and my whole body shook in shock. It took me several weeks of phone calls to finally get charges placed against my assailant whereas the responding officer had proof right there. Police are meant to protect us. Their responses to smaller crimes like this could really curb the sociopathic behavior that is present in offenders like the one depicted above. Instead it seems a police officer’s training is more focused on picking up the pieces when someone like this goes all the way and actually kills someone, and maybe even then nothing. For those who are unsure why I bring this up, I am talking about Andy’s initial statement, where his three calls to 911 were responded to with a dispatcher telling him that they couldn’t do anything, he shouldn’t follow the guy, and a squad car never coming. That’s pitiful. A police officer should’ve been there within a minute of his first call and responded with rounding up the assailant and providing support for the victim, taking statements from everyone. If still no files were charged, at least it would be on record for a time that this guy has a habit of hitting his girlfriend.

    • A Harris

      I could not agree more with you.

      What’s sad is that there were ten police officers on bicycles who ignored her blood curdling screams and rode away, claiming she was screaming “because shes DRUNK!” They could’ve been there in literally seconds to help this girl or possibly prevent it from escalating to what it did. I am disgusted by this man and the Philadelphia policemen who literally did NOTHING but ride away.

      • disqus_JjYnU5MRNk

        Sounds like the police officers were there to enjoy themselves and not provide security.

    • aresniccc

      I am so sorry this happened to you. Has anything progressed for you since then? I hope you’re in a better place now than you were. Take care of yourself.

  • ErShava

    Don’t believe feminists, men punching women is still worst than men punching men.

    • USAThomas

      Are you suggesting that feminists are for violence between intimate partners?

  • Jimmy


  • Jimmy

    George Zimmerman follows a black guy and he’s a racist. This guy is a hero. What a country.

    • Burgers

      that “black guy” was a CHILD who did NOTHING. this man was observed punching his girlfriend.

      • Jimmy

        He was 17 years old and fit the description of someone who was burglarizing the neighborhood.

    • M. M. B.

      This is literally the stupidest thing I have ever read.

      • Jimmy

        Nobody else sees parallels between this and the Zimmerman case? I mean they’re obviously different don’t get me wrong just seems like a pretty glaring double standard.

    • A Harris


      • Michele G Rogers

        Don’t respond to trolls.

        • Jimmy

          I’m not trolling. It’s an honest question. There was national outrage over the Zimmerman case. With that logic this guy should be vilified no?

          • Natalie

            Filming and questioning someone is different than killing someone. Pretty clear distinction.

  • Tommy Grover

    I bet he eats dairy. BAD hipster!

  • Greg Blass

    I’m starting to worry about 911 in Philadelphia. When an 18-wheeler rammed into our parked car outside of loco pez, got wedged in there (we weren’t sure what to do), and completely blocked 2 septa buses and traffic and cedar point, we had to call 911 twice – and they still didn’t send anyone out. We ended up calling the Fishtown police and it was probably 20-30 minutes before anyone came. Is 911 in Philadelphia a joke?

    • aresniccc

      The Fishtown police are a joke. I was told after someone attempted to mug me that they’d look into my case (they talked to witnesses at the scene and had access to security footage from across the street) and “get back to me.” Nothing ever happened even with my follow-ups.

      When the cop did arrive on the scene, the first thing out of his mouth was “So, was this guy black?” When I said no and laid into him about being a racist jerk, he basically ignored everything else I said. People like the cops in this story are not the people I want protecting us.

      Philly’s Finest, ladies and gentlemen.

  • gijyun

    …why won’t my comment be approved?

    • http://www.phillymag.com/ Philadelphia Magazine

      Remove the profanity.

      • phillysportsfan

        why do you use profanity in articles and prohibit it in comments? why can i insult someone without using profanity but can’t use profanity in an uninsulting way? i’m genuinely curious as different websites, even those using the same disqus platform, have different policies.

        • vfiorillo

          Hi. Here is our commenting policy:

          Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

          • phillysportsfan

            thanks. i’m still curious though. are all comments deemed “waiting for approval” or whatever it is, actually viewed by someone or are comments containing profanity automatically scrubbed? like for example i had a comment that never got posted because (i think) it said in part “the f— do i care?” without the dashes. and since your publication uses profanity and since my use of profanity wasn’t directed at anyone in an insulting manner and since you only reserve the right to remove posts that use profanity, not flat out ban them i’m curious as to why that comment got banned. basically, why are commenters held to a higher standard than your contributors/staff writers?

          • http://www.phillymag.com/ Philadelphia Magazine

            We’re not generally concerned with profanity per se, but we’ve found it correlates highly with gross incivility and personal attacks. For every comment that uses profanity purely for emphasis or effect, there are 20 that use it in an insulting or hateful manner. We’re satisfied with the tradeoff resulting from a blanket ban.

            Our commenting system, Disqus, flags comments based on a restricted words list, and such comments are read and approved/rejected as limited time allows — and given that the commenting policy clearly warns against profanity, we don’t feel a strong obligation to parse each instance of it for intention and effect.

            And of course you can insult someone without using profanity, but its effect tends to be blunted — another tradeoff we’re satisfied with. (We will, however, remove non-profane comments that users have flagged after publication if on review we deem them uncivil.)

            As to a “higher standard”, our writers use profanity sparingly and advisedly, unlike the majority of commenters who end up in the moderation queue.

          • phillysportsfan

            thanks for the reply. fair enough. i disagree, but i appreciate having it spelled out for me.

      • gijyun

        It didn’t have profanity.

        • http://www.phillymag.com/ Philadelphia Magazine

          It did: “From what I see here, the police didn’t do anything wrong and the witness, disturbing as it is, was a party to the soft underbelly of sh** that you don’t see every day…probably because (most) cops are actually doing what they’re supposed to be doing – protecting people from this sh**.”

          • gijyun

            Ai dios mio. And I’m usually so refined. Sorry.

  • Amber Sanchez

    I’m dissapointed to see a story of a woman’s abuse being used for a shocking article and no mention of how someone in this position might seek help. Shame on you, Mr. Fiorillo.
    If you or someone you know has experience domestic violence: http://www.thehotline.org