A fired Philadelphia police officer has been arrested nearly 18 months after a mother was attacked by law enforcement and separated from her 2-year-old son while driving past looting and unrest following the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr.
Officer Darren Kardos, 42, who was dismissed by the PPD in May, was charged Thursday with second-degree felony aggravated assault, simple assault and related charges.
Rickia Young, the victim in the case, was separated from her son and did not know where he was until hours later, when he was discovered in police custody in Center City.
Shortly after the incident, the National Fraternal Order of Police published a photograph on Facebook of Young’s son in the arms of a female officer, with a misleading caption stating he had been “wandering around barefoot in an area that was experiencing complete lawlessness.” The post was later deleted.
Kardos, along with other officers, rushed upon Young’s vehicle at around 1 a.m. on Oct. 27, hours after police fatally shot Wallace, sparking protests and riots, particularly in West Philadelphia.
Young’s 16-year-old nephew had called to ask for a ride, and, after picking him up, she saw Chestnut Street was closed near 52nd Street. Officers told her to make a U-turn, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Then, in an incident captured on cellphone video, officers surrounded the vehicle and smashed the windows.
After using a retractable metal baton to break the glass, Officer Darren Kardos yanked Young out of the driver’s seat by her hair, struck her multiple times and used mace, prosecutors said Thursday.
Kardos, when interviewed later, made claims that were not corroborated by video evidence, according to the DA’s Office.
“The law applies equally to everyone, and this office is going to be even handed and fair, and follow the facts and apply the law to police in the same way that we apply it to everyone else,” DA Larry Krasner told reporters.
Court records indicate Kardos is being represented by a public defender, and the Defender’s Association of Philadelphia did not respond to a request for comment. FOP Lodge 5, the union’s local chapter, declined to comment.
Kardos, who served on the force for seven years, was released from jail pending court proceedings. His case is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on April 29.
Krasner said investigators reviewed footage from multiple body-worn cameras, adding that officials have not decided whether to publicly release the tapes. Representatives from his office did not rule out filing charges against other officers.
Sgt. David Chisholm, a 14-year police veteran, was also fired in connection with the incident, and, as of September, 14 other officers were awaiting disciplinary hearings.
One officer involved was suspended for 30 days; another has since resigned; 11 are awaiting Police Board of Inquiry hearings on Internal Affairs violations; and two have been disciplined by their superiors, according to the PPD.
Young reached a $2 million settlement with the city last year, before even filing a lawsuit.
At a news conference in September, Young’s attorneys said her son had developed a fear of police and was more easily startled by loud noises.
“I will never forget what those officers did to us that night,” Young said at the time. “I hope that the officers responsible will never have the chance to do something like this to another person ever again.”