Philadelphia mother attacked by officers during Wallace protests settles for $2 million

officer 2020 protest
Rickia Young speaks to reporters Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, in Center City after reaching a $2 million settlement with the city.
Jack Tomczuk

A Philadelphia woman who was attacked by officers and separated from her 2-year-old son for hours during a protest against police brutality last fall has reached a $2 million settlement with the city, her attorneys said Tuesday.

The mother, Rickia Young, is also pursuing legal action against the national Fraternal Order of Police for a social media post that included a picture of her son in the arms of an officer with a misleading caption.

Two Philadelphia police officers have been fired in relation to the incident, which was caught on video, and 14 others are under investigation, officials said.

“I will never forget what those officers did to us that night,” Young told reporters Tuesday. “I hope that the officers responsible will never have the chance to do something like this to another person ever again.”

Back in October, a 16-year-old family friend called Young and asked her to pick him up in West Philadelphia because he was nervous about demonstrations stemming from the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr.

As they were driving back on Chestnut Street, Young saw that the road ahead was closed and, like other cars, she attempted to make a U-turn.

That’s when, for seemingly no reason, a group of officers armed with batons bashed in the windows of her SUV, yanked her and the teenager out of the vehicle and beat them, Young’s attorneys said.

Her 2-year-old son was in police custody for several hours, eventually turning up in Center City covered in glass from the car windows and without his hearing aids, according to her account of the incident.

The young boy has developed a fear of police and is more easily startled by loud noises, said Kevin Mincey, one of Young’s attorneys.

Mayor Jim Kenney on Tuesday described Young’s experience as “absolutely appalling,” adding that it “only further strained the relationship between the police department and our communities.”

Young’s legal team said they were told that the $2 million pay-out represents the largest pre-suit non-fatal police brutality settlement in the city’s history.

Attorney Riley Ross, who represents Rickia Young, speaks Tuesday in Center City about the $2 million settlement.

The legal agreement, which came before a lawsuit was even filed, did not include any PPD reforms or mandate any disciplinary actions for specific officers.

Young’s attorneys called on District Attorney Larry Krasner to file charges against the police personnel involved, with Mincey saying that the officers who participated in the attack should be fired.

A spokesperson for the DA’s Office would not confirm whether they are actively investigating the incident.

Following an internal investigation, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw fired Officer Darren Kardos, 41, and Sgt. David Chisholm, 45, in May.

Kardos, who joined the department seven years ago, was determined to have used excessive force, while Chisholm, a 13-year veteran, was found to have violated policies regarding inappropriate language, use of force and lying during an investigation, according to the PPD.

An additional 14 officers are waiting for disciplinary hearings through the Police Board of Inquiry.

Shortly after the incident, the Fraternal Order of Police, a national law enforcement group, posted a photograph of a female officer holding Young’s 2-year-old son with a caption that read:

“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 not your enemy. We are the Thin Blue Line. And WE ARE the only thing standing between Order and Anarchy.”

The post, which made no mention of the other officers’ actions, generated hundreds of shares and comments before quickly being deleted.

Young’s attorneys characterized the post as “propaganda” meant to sway voters days before the 2020 presidential election. The NFOP endorsed President Donald Trump.

“For them to portray me as this type of mom who wouldn’t know or care where her child was while chaos was happening all around is very hurtful,” Young said. “All to promote a political message of fear of black people and civil protesters.”

In a lawsuit filed last week, her legal team alleged that the NFOP was intentionally misleading and that the organization knew or should have known the context of the photo. Its representatives did not contact the PPD before posting, according to the complaint.

“This post was designed to stoke political anger, fear and resentment,” Mincey said. “And it was done at the expense of the wellbeing of a young child and his mother.”

The NFOP did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.