Philadelphia to pay woman $2m after beating her and parading her 'rescued' toddler on social media

·3-min read
Police used an image of the toddler on social media
Police used an image of the toddler on social media

The city of Philadelphia has reached a $2 million settlement with a black mother who was dragged from her car and beaten by police in front of her toddler.

After being terrorised by officers Rickia Young, a nursing assistant, was then separated from her two-year-old hearing-impaired son.

The child was later paraded on social media by police who said he was rescued by officers after being found wandering the streets alone.

Politicians in the city called it a "terrible" incident which had worsened already fraught relations between police and the black community.

Ms Young was driving home on Oct 27 last year with her young son and a 16-year-old nephew in the car.

Rickia Young
Rickia Young

She took a wrong turn into a street where demonstrators were protesting the death of Walter Wallace Jr, a black man who had earlier been shot dead by police.

As she attempted a three-point turn Ms Young's car was surrounded by over a dozen police officers.

Mobile phone footage at the time showed the officers smashing the vehicle's windows with batons.

They then pulled Ms Young out, threw her to the ground and used batons to beat her.

She was handcuffed and arrested and taken away from her two-year-old, who was in his car seat.

Her face was left bruised and bloodied and she required medical attention.

The two year-old lost his hearing aids amid the chaos.

Police had come under attack during protests on the same day
Police had come under attack during protests on the same day

A few days later the Fraternal Order of Police, the largest police union in the United States, published a photograph on social media of a female officer carrying the child.

The caption accompanying the image said: "This child was lost during the violent riots in Philadelphia, wandering around barefoot in an area that was experiencing complete lawlessness.

"The only thing this Philadelphia Police Officer cared about in that moment was protecting this child.

"We are the Thin Blue Line. And WE ARE the only thing standing between Order and Anarchy.”

After what had led to the child being found unaccompanied emerged, the post was taken down.

Two police officers were later fired over the treatment of Ms Young.

After the settlement was announced Ms Young said: "Our physical injuries may heal. But the pain of seeing those images of my son in the arms of the officer, and their horrible caption written to describe that picture, may never heal."

She said the officers responsible should "never have the chance to do something like this to another person ever again."

Kevin Mincey, her lawyer, said the police had attempted to use Ms Young’s son for "political propaganda."

He said the child was still suffering after effects from the incident.

Rickia Young at a press conference
Rickia Young at a press conference

Mr Mincey said: "He’s already audibilised a fear of police. He’s afraid of the dark. Loud noises. He’s more easily startled. Those are just examples of some of the things he’s been dealing with since this happened."

Jim Kenney, the mayor of Philadelphia, said it had been "absolutely appalling" and had made relations between the police and citizens even worse.

He said: "This terrible incident, which should have never happened to anyone, only further strained the relationship between the police and community.

"The officers’ inexcusable actions that evening prompted an immediate and thorough investigation of the incident, and for personnel to be disciplined and held accountable for their egregious conduct."

He added: "I hope that the settlement and investigations into the officers’ actions bring some measure of closure to Ms Young and her family."

Danielle Outlaw, the city's police commissioner, said officers had "terrorised" Ms Young and her family and "violated the mission" of her department.

Ms Young's lawyers called for criminal charges to be brought against officers involved.

They are also seeking damages from the police union, which did not comment.

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