Philadelphia settled a case with a mother whom police officers dragged from her car and beat up during protests against police violence last year.
The city settled for $2 million before she filed a lawsuit. The city told her lawyers it is the largest pre-trial settlement for a police brutality case like this.
“In many law firms, this case would have been over after securing such a historic settlement against the city of Philadelphia,” said lawyer Kevin Mincey.
But they say that’s not enough.
In October 2020, Philadelphia police officers shot and killed Walter Wallace Jr. in Cobbs Creek. That led to several days of protests. On October 27, Rickia Young was driving through West Philadelphia with her two-year-old son and 16-year-old nephew when she found herself in the middle of a protest. She turned to go back, but before she could, officers dragged Young and her nephew out of her car, beat them, and kept her away from her son for several hours.
The Fraternal Order of Police, the world’s largest organization of sworn officers, posted on social media a picture of a Philadelphia officer holding Rickia Young’s two-year-old son, saying that he was: “lost during the violent riots in Philadelphia, wandering around barefoot in an area that was experiencing complete lawlessness.”
The post ended by saying “We are the Thin Blue Line. And WE ARE the only thing standing between Order and Anarchy.”
The FOP took the post down a day later.
A few hours later, Philadelphia police released Young without filing any charges, and let her reunite with her son.
Lawyer Kevin Mincey said her son is still suffering from what happened.
“He’s already audibilized a fear of police. He’s afraid of the dark. Loud noises,” Mincey said. “He’s more easily startled. Those are just examples of some of the things he’s been dealing with since this happened.”
Rickia Young said she will never forget what the officers did that night, and that she hopes “the officers responsible will never have the chance to do something like this to another person ever again.”
Young and her lawyers called for District Attorney Larry Krasner to bring criminal charges against the officers involved. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported yesterday that two veteran officers were fired for their use of force.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said in a statement that what the officers did that day “violated the mission of the Philadelphia Police Department … and … created an environment that terrorized Rickia Young, her family, and other members of the public.”
Young and her lawyers also want damages from the Fraternal Order of Police, which declined to comment. Lawyer Kevin Mincey said the FOP posted that picture of Young’s son as a piece of “political propaganda,” because it happened shortly before the 2020 presidential election, and after the National FOP endorsed former President Donald Trump. He quoted the FOP website, which describes the organization’s “influence on public safety and policing issues is second to none.”
Young added that she wants the FOP held accountable for portraying her as a mother who would not know or care about where her son was.
“Our physical injuries may heal,” she said. “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.”
This April, the family of Walter Wallace Jr. also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the two officers who killed him.