The city of Philadelphia agreed to pay a young black mother $ 2 million after police officers smashed the windows of the sport utility vehicle she was in, removed her and beat her after she was found by inadvertently in a police barricade last fall, the woman’s lawyers said Tuesday.
The encounter occurred as the woman, Rickia Young, was in the presence of her toddler and the 16-year-old son of a family friend who were also in the vehicle, said Kevin Mincey, the one of Ms. Young’s attorneys.
“It’s money that changes the lives of Rickia and her family,” Mincey said of the settlement in an interview. “But what she went through changed her life as well.”
The episode occurred on October 27, 2020, amid protests following the fatal shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old black man who police said was armed with a knife.
Hours after Mr. Wallace was murdered on October 26, in a cellphone video taken by a passer-by, an SUV is seen at a police barricade, and officers quickly surround the vehicle. According to her attorneys, Ms Young was not part of the protest but had picked up the teenager, who was stranded in West Philadelphia and was “afraid of growing tensions between police and those protesting against Mr Wallace’s murder. “.
When she started to return home, the lawyers said, she found herself in the middle of a large group of protesters and police, on a blocked Chestnut Street. She tried to turn around but had to stop to avoid hitting protesters who started running next to her vehicle, her lawyers said.
“Suddenly and without warning,” Riley Ross, another lawyer for Ms Young, said at a press conference Tuesday, “a group of Philadelphia police officers wearing riot gear and wielding batons descended on the car , smashing several windows in the vehicle, and officers violently pulled Ms. Young and her nephew from the vehicle and physically beat him and him in the street, causing serious injuries.
She had bruises and her face was bloodied, Mr Mincey said, adding that she suffered from emotional distress, which was factored into the settlement.
Ms. Young’s attorneys also said that the National Order of Fraternal Police Legislative Liaison, in a since-deleted post, shared a photo of a police officer holding Ms. Young’s toddler moments after her arrest for show that the police were protecting a child. wandering amid the riots of evil.
Danielle Outlaw, Philadelphia Police Commissioner, said in a statement Tuesday that the behavior of some officers involved in the meeting with Ms. Young “violated the mission of the Philadelphia Police Department.”
“In fact, the ability of the officers and supervisors on site to defuse the situation has been abandoned,” Ms. Outlaw said, “and instead of tackling crime and the fear of crime, some of the officers at the scene created an environment that terrorized Rickia Young, her family and other members of the public.
After an internal affairs investigation, two officers were fired and 14 are awaiting disciplinary proceedings through the department’s police investigation committee, a city spokesperson said.
A phone message left with the local Fraternal Order of Police, which represents the officers involved in the case, was not immediately answered Tuesday evening.
Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement that what Ms. Young and her relatives had experienced was “absolutely appalling.”
“This terrible incident, which should never have happened to anyone, has only worsened the relationship between the police service and our communities,” he said. “The officers’ inexcusable actions that evening led to an immediate and thorough investigation of the incident and staff to be disciplined and held accountable for their blatant conduct.”
He added, “I hope the settlement and the investigations into the agents’ actions will bring some closure to Ms. Young and her family.”
Ms Young, 29, and her lawyers also want criminal charges laid against the police officers involved.
“This is clearly criminal conduct – there is no doubt about it,” Mincey said.
Larry Krasner, the district attorney for Philadelphia, said Tuesday night: “It would be inappropriate by law for us to comment on whether or not an investigation exists at this time. Later we will have more to say.
In general terms, Mr Krasner said cases like Ms Young’s were complicated because they were chaotic and it could be difficult to determine which officers were responsible for which actions, especially when they were all wearing the same clothes.
“When you’re faced with this scenario and you have grainy cell phone images that don’t capture the things you want to capture in a criminal investigation,” he said, “that’s another difficulty. “