Black mother wins $2m payout from police who pulled her from car, beat her and seized her child for no reason

·3-min read
A Philadelphia police officer holding the son of a mother, Rickia Young, who was allegedly beaten during anti-racism demonstrations in Philadelphia last year  (Cafemom/Fraternal Order of Police/Philadelphia Police)
A Philadelphia police officer holding the son of a mother, Rickia Young, who was allegedly beaten during anti-racism demonstrations in Philadelphia last year (Cafemom/Fraternal Order of Police/Philadelphia Police)

Rickia Young, a young Black mother who was allegedly beaten during anti-racism demonstrations in Philadelphia last year for no reason, has reportedly reached a $2m (£1.4m) settlement with city officials.

The agreement was reached on Monday, almost a year after Ms Young was forcefully removed from her car, was beaten, and had her toddler used by the city’s police department for social media, reported The Philadelphia Inquirer.

In a statement, Philadelphia police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said that “instead of fighting crime and the fear of crime, some of the officers on the scene created an environment that terrorised Rickia Young, her family, and other members of the public” on the morning of 27 October 2020.

That was when Ms Young, a nursing aide from north Philadelphia, tried to drive through a large protest over the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr, a young Black man.

As seen in video footage, when she tried to turn around in her vehicle, she was approached by officers who smashed her windows with batons, it was alleged.

She was then beaten and had her toddler taken by officers, who later posed with her child for an image that was shared on social media by a police union. The mother and two-year-old son were separated for several hours.

“This child was lost during the violent riots in Philadelphia…the only thing this Philadelphia Police officer cared about in that moment was protecting this child,” the post by the National Fraternal Order of Police, who deleted the image from Facebook following complaints, had claimed.

A screengrab of video showing officers and protesters surround Rickia Young’s vehicle (AP/CBSPHilly)
A screengrab of video showing officers and protesters surround Rickia Young’s vehicle (AP/CBSPHilly)

Ms Young and her child last week filed a lawsuit against the union seeking damages for invasion of privacy and infliction of emotional distress. It said at the time that it removed the image after learning “of conflicting accounts of the circumstances under which the child came to be assisted by the officer.”

No others have been criminally charged for the incident, which saw Philadelphia police fire a former officer and sargent.

Ms Outlaw added on Monday that “The behaviour that occurred during the interaction between Rickia Young, her nephew, her son, and some of the officers on the scene violated the mission of the Philadelphia Police Department,” which will now pay her $2m.

Ms Young speaks following the settlement deal at a press conference (6abcPhiladelphia)
Ms Young speaks following the settlement deal at a press conference (6abcPhiladelphia)

The mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, also issued a statement and said the treatment of Ms Young was "absolutely appalling" and "inexcusable”, and that he hoped “the settlement and investigations into the officers’ actions bring some measure of closure to Ms Young and her family”.

Ms Young told reporters during a press conference: "I will never forget what those officers did to us that night, [and] I hope that the officers responsible will never have the chance to do something like this to another person ever again."

Despite that, Ms Young said “the pain of seeing those images of my son in the arms of an officer and a horrible caption written to describe that picture may never heal”.

The Independent has approached the Fraternal Order of Police for comment.

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