Philadelphia agreed to pay woman $ 2 million after officers smashed the windows of her vehicle, ripped her from the car and assaulted herin front of her toddler last fall, the lawyers announced on Tuesday.
However, attorney for Rickia Young, 29, said they are still calling for criminal charges against the officers, some of whom were later fired, andhave sued the National Fraternal Order of Police over a since-deleted social media post showing Young’s son that lawyer Riley Ross called “propaganda.”
“I will never forget what those officers did to us that night,” Young said at a press conference Tuesday. “I hope the officers in charge never get a chance to do something like this to another person again.”
In October, Young was driving home with her 2-year-old son and 16-year-old nephew when she encountered a group of protesters just hours after police shot dead Walter Wallace Jr., 27, a black man. whose family had requested mental health help. Police had blocked the street and Young attempted to turn around, but stopped to avoid hitting protesters.
It was then that police in riot gear and wielding batons smashed his windows,pulled Young and his nephew from the vehicle and beat them, causing “significant injuries,” Ross said.
Young was separated from her son for hours and taken to hospital, her lawyers said.
After Young’s arrest, Ross said the Fraternal Order of Police shared a photo on Facebook of an officer holding his son with a caption claiming the child was walking alone during the protests.
“This child was lost in the violent riots in Philadelphia, wandering barefoot in an area of lawlessness,” the union said in the post, according to screenshots shared by Ross and the Philadelphia Inquirer. “The only thing that Philadelphia police officer cared about at the time was protecting this child.”
Lawyers:Police union used photo of black child in unrest in Philadelphia as “propaganda”
The national FOP said in a statement to USA TODAY as it abolished the post after learning “conflicting accounts as to the circumstances in which the child came to be helped by the officer.”
But Ross said the post caused further emotional harm and was “designed to spread a false story”.
“They are trying to erase what happened – police brutality – and turn it into police saviorism,” Ross said. “It’s another deep wound they cut.”
The local FOP, which the New York Times says represents the officers, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Meanwhile, two officers involved in the incident were fired in May following an internal investigation into the assault, spokeswoman Tanya Little told USA TODAY.. The investigation revealed that Constable Darren Kardos had violated department policies on excessive force and damage to private property and Staff Sgt. David Chisholm violated policies relating to inappropriate language, conduct or gestures, use of force and lying during an investigation, Little said.
Currently, 14 officers are awaiting disciplinary hearings following the internal cases findings, Little said.
The officers are not subject to criminal charges. Jane Roh, spokesperson for District Attorney’s Office Larry Krasner, said she “cannot confirm or comment on any potential criminal investigation into this incident at this time.”
Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said in a statement that the actions of some of the officers “violated the mission of the Philadelphia Police Department.”
“In fact, the ability of the officers and supervisors on the scene to defuse the situation was abandoned, and instead of tackling crime and the fear of crime, some of the officers on the scene created an environment that terrorized Rickia Young,” his family and other members of the public, ”Outlaw continued.
Mayor Jim Kenney said the incident was “absolutely appalling” and further strained police-community relations in a statement.
“The officers’ inexcusable actions that evening led to an immediate and thorough investigation of the incident and that the staff were disciplined and held accountable for their blatant conduct,” he said. “I hope the settlement and the investigations into the agents’ actions will provide some closure to Ms. Young and her family.”
Young’s child is “still, as early as yesterday morning, saying he’s scared of the police,” Ross said. He added that Young is not only suffering from back and neck pain from the incident, but also “from the emotional pain that accompanies nightmares, inability to sleep, depression.”
Young and his lawyers say the family will not be able to secure a closure until the FOP lawsuit is settled.
“I want them to be held accountable,” Young said. “Our physical wounds can heal, but the pain of seeing these images of my son in the arms of an officer and that horrible caption written to describe that image may never heal.”