PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — The Philadelphia Police Department has opened an investigation after a harrowing video shows police smashing in the windows of a vehicle driven by a Black woman who was trapped during the Walter Wallace Jr. demonstrations with her toddler in a rear car seat. Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw says the officer seen in the video smashing the vehicle’s windows is on restrictive duty pending the investigation’s outcome.
It’s not clear what led up to the moment but Rickia Young’s attorney says she was dragged out of her vehicle and beaten by police. As a result of the video, an internal affairs investigation is underway.
“As soon as it was brought to my attention, an Internal Affairs investigation had been initiated. Since that time, we’ve identified the officer responsible or the one that we see using the strikes against the car. That officer has since been placed on restrictive duty pending the outcome of the investigation,” Outlaw said during a Friday press conference.
The National FOP posted a picture of the small boy in the arms of a female police officer after his mother was detained, saying he had been found wandering around barefoot during the protests. The post was soon taken down when it “subsequently learned of conflicting accounts of the circumstances,” according to National FOP spokesperson Jessica Cahill. She did not immediately say where the FOP got the initial information.
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“Just imagine the vitriol she’s getting on social media about what kind of a parent she is? How could she be out there? It’s infuriating,” said lawyer Kevin Mincey, who represents 28-year-old home health aide Young.
As police remain tight-lipped on the investigation, Young’s lawyer is speaking out.
According to Mincey, Young had been watching the late news Monday night when she saw that protests over Wallace’s death had broken out in West Philadelphia. She decided to retrieve her 16-year-old nephew from the area, and she put her 2-year-old son in the car instead of leaving him home alone.
Mincey said Young took her usual route home only to drive into the fray at about 1:45 a.m. as police clashed with demonstrators. Police told her to turn around. But as she attempted a K-turn, Mincey said, officers swarmed her car, broke windows and injured her and her nephew as they pulled them from the vehicle.
“Once they got Rickia onto the ground they beat her with their batons, hands, feet, causing various injuries on Rickia’s body, swelling to her face, her body,” Mincey said.
Young spent the next few hours at police headquarters and was treated at a hospital for bruises and a bleeding wound from her head. She was taken into custody and released without charges.
She asked her mother to try to find the child, who had been pulled from the vehicle by police. The grandmother finally found him in a police cruiser, with a welt on his head and glass in his car seat, Mincey said.
Mincey says the family has no idea where the SUV is located and police have not told them how to recover their vehicle. Young’s purse and wallet were in the vehicle, as well as her 2-year-old’s hearing aids.
Police do not yet know what led up to the incident.
“I still don’t know all of the details but I will tell you after reviewing the video, what I saw was quite concerning. But I’m very careful about what I say because I don’t know all the circumstances around it as far as what led up to it, again what the officers experienced or what they will be saying in their Internal Affairs interview. But with that said, I’d only be speculating right now, but I will say what I saw was rather concerning,” Outlaw said Friday.
Both Young and the boy, who is hearing impaired, are traumatized, Mincey said. The FOP post, he said, painted “officers as heroes of the community, when in actuality, they were the terrorists of this incident.”
Mincey says he is not surprised by the video. He represents some of the protesters arrested in Philadelphia during Black Lives Matter demonstrations earlier this year.
“This is how they respond,” Mincey said of police. “Really, it’s just a continuation of what we’ve seen this summer — violence, intimidation and them trying to assert their will by force over people who are lawfully on the streets.”
“The problem now is all the eyes trained on it,” the lawyer said.
Young was not charged, although a bracelet put on her arm at police headquarters suggested she was detained for allegedly assaulting police, he said.
Mincey says Young plans to file a civil rights lawsuit against the city.
Wallace Jr., 27, was shot and killed by two Philadelphia officers after, police say, he walked toward them with a knife and refused to drop the weapon. His family says Wallace Jr. was having a mental health crisis.
The fatal shooting has been followed by ongoing unrest and protests. A number of Philadelphia businesses have been looted and vandalized throughout the week.
CBS3’s Kimberly Davis contributed to this report.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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