A video has surfaced that shows dozens of Philadelphia police officers in riot gear surrounding a Black family’s SUV before forcibly pulling a 28-year-old woman, her teenage nephew and hearing-impaired toddler son out of the vehicle.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the ordeal was about 10 blocks and less than 12 hours removed from officers shooting and killing Walter Wallace Jr. The 27-year-old Black man died in a hail of 14 bullets Monday, Oct. 26, in a police killing that’s once again sparked national outcry.
The latest video was taken in the aftermath of the uproar surrounding his death. It was a show of aggression livestreamed Oct. 27 by Aapril Rice, a 30-year-old woman who was capturing a pre-dawn exchange between protestors and riot police from her rooftop.
Officers with batons surrounded an SUV, busted out its windows then yanked the driver and passenger from the vehicle. They threw them both to the ground then pulled a toddler from the back seat.
The driver was identified Friday as Rickia Young, a 28-year-old home health-care aide. The passenger was her 16-year-old nephew and the child in the back seat was Young’s 2-year-old son.
Young has retained Philadelphia civil rights attorneys Kevin Mincey and Riley H. Ross III, who staged a press conference Friday, Oct. 30. The attorneys are preparing to file a civil lawsuit against the Philadelphia Police Department, the Inquirer reported.
Mincey said Young was beaten, bloodied, detained for hours and police refused to tell her where they’d taken her toddler son. She was not charged, but the ordeal was traumatizing, according to her attorneys.
“Every time she sees a police officer the last couple days, she’s worried that they’re coming for her,” Mincey said during Friday’s press conference. “Her son, even though he is hearing impaired and still developing his speech, is definitely showing some signs of trauma.”
Rice’s video was shared by activists and quickly spread throughout social media, according to the Inquirer, which received a two-minute recording of the ordeal. One user’s post had over 3.1 million views on Twitter by Friday.
It came on the heels of Wallace’s fateful brush with law enforcement earlier this week. Wallace, who suffered from bipolar disorder, was wielding a knife when two police officers opened fire on him during a confrontation in front of his family’s West Philadelphia home Oct. 26. Family members said he was having a manic episode when they called for an emergency ambulance.
An onlooker’s cellphone footage of the deadly encounter sparked nights of protest, unrest and curfew mandates in the City of Brotherly Love. The shooting also roused a burning question: why didn’t police subdue Wallace, a mental health patient in crisis, with a stun gun instead of using deadly force. But according to authorities, the two responding officers weren’t equipped with Tasers. Investigators are now trying to learn what the two policemen knew about the situation when they responded to the call, CNN reported.
Demonstrators have flocked to the streets of Philadelphia this week to rally against Wallace’s death. The city has also grappled with a roiling tide of riots and arrests.
It was amid that scrutiny of the department’s use of force tactics that the latest flare-up unfolded.
Rice told the Inquirer she was watching a crowd gathered near a Foot Locker that was being looted when people threw projectiles at police. Police initially backed away, then advanced toward the crowd. The video shows a group of protesters running away as nearly 30 officers encroached.
Young drove right into the midst of that standoff. Mincey explained that Young was driving to pick her nephew up from a friend’s house and took her toddler son in hopes the late-night ride would help him fall asleep. She encountered barricades and police told her to turn around, her attorneys claimed.
She started to make a three-point turn when some of the officers converged on her SUV, which had its reverse lights on. Two of the officers are clearly seen using baton sticks to bust out the vehicle’s windows as another rips the driver’s side door open, snatches Young out and slams her to the pavement. One of the policemen can be seen hitting the woman with his baton as she’s ushered out of the vehicle. Mincey said officers continued to beat Young with their batons, hands and feet while she was on the ground.
A fracas ensued as more officers swarmed the SUV. But in the midst of the frenetic activity, it appears a female officer removed Young’s toddler son from the back seat.
Mincey told the Inquirer the toddler suffered a large welt on its head and had to be treated at a local hospital. Young was also hospitalized with a bloody nose, swollen trachea, blood in her urine, and pain on her left side, according to the attorney.
A spokesman from the Philadelphia Police Department issued a statement to the New York Post on Oct. 29 confirming that the department’s Internal Affairs office was investigating the incident.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw on Oct. 30 told the Inquirer that an officer seen in the video striking Young’s SUV has been placed on restricted duty pending the outcome of that investigation.
Mincey detailed Young’s hour-long chain of custody Friday. After a short visit to the hospital, officers detained her in a holding cell and placed a wristband on her that read “assault on police,” he told reporters. He said she was not released until hours later after all the other arrestees in the cell had been processed.
In the meantime, the National Fraternal Order of Police, one of the nation’s leading police unions and lobbyist organizations, posted a photo of a female officer holding Young’s child on its Facebook and Twitter pages Oct. 29. The picture was captioned: “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.”
The social media posts have since been deleted after actual video surfaced of the incident that led to the photo. Ross, Young’s other attorney, characterized the pic as misleading propaganda on Friday.
“This is an intentional lie,” he said. “What the message is conveying is that the police — or this particular officer — was the only one that cared about this child at the time. And the message says that the police are the only thing standing in between order and anarchy.
“But we know the reality is that at the time, the anarchy involving this child was created by the police.”