“This child was lost during the violent riots in Philadelphia and wandered around barefoot in an area that experienced complete lawlessness,” the union claimed in a tweet and Facebook post that has since been deleted. “The only thing this Philadelphia police officer cared about at that moment was to protect this child.”
But lawyers for the boy’s family say the story was a total fabrication.
In fact, they say police pulled the boy from the back seat of an SUV after blowing up all the windows and violently arresting and wounding his mother, who was later released without charge.
Ross and colleague Kevin Mincey represent the boy’s mother in a civil lawsuit stemming from the violent clash with police on the first night of protests in Philadelphia, which has had four troubled nights of unrest after officers killed Wallace, 27, who was armed with a knife, and whose family said was mentally ill.
Not long after midnight Tuesday, Rickia Young, a 28-year-old home assistant, borrowed her sister’s car, put her 2-year-old son in the back seat and drove across town to West Philadelphia to pick up her teenage child from a friend’s house, Mincey said.
She was driving back to their home in hopes that the scattered car engine would wake her young son to sleep as she turned onto Chestnut Street, where police and protesters had collided. She found herself unexpectedly driving towards a number of police officers who asked her to turn around, Mincey said. The young mother was trying to make a three-point turn when a swarm of Philadelphia officers surrounded the SUV, smashed the windows and pulled Young and her 16-year-old nephew from the car.
A nu-viral video of the confrontation shows officers throwing Young and the teenager into the ground and then grabbing the child from the back seat. The scene was captured by Aapril Rice, who watched it unfold from the rooftop and told the Philadelphia Inquirer that seeing a police officer take the baby was “surreal” and “traumatic.”
Mincey said police temporarily detained Young, who had to be taken to hospital for medical treatment before she could be treated at the police station because her head was bleeding and most of her left side had been severely bruised when police threw her to the ground. She and her son were separated for hours, he said.
“Her face was bloody and she looked like she had been beaten by a bunch of people on the street,” he told The Post. “She’s still in pain.”
Her nephew also suffered injuries in the confrontation, Mincey said, and Young’s son was hit in the head, leaving a large bump on the child’s forehead.
Mincey said Young called her mother while she was in police custody and asked her to find the boy. The children’s grandmother managed to find him after several hours, the lawyer said, sitting in his car seat in the back of a police cruiser with two officers in the front seats. Glass from the SUV’s broken windows was still in the child’s car seat, he said.
The Inquirer first reported on fraternal order of police posts on social media on Thursday. Photos of the boy in the arms of a police officer came amid a stream of union posts rejecting the Philadelphia protests and urging people to vote for President Trump to promote “law and order.”
“We are not your enemy,” the union said in the posts, showing Young’s son. “We are the thin blue line. And WE ARE the only thing that stands between order and anarchy. ”
After the Inquirer asked the union about the positions, it removed photos and the allegation that an officer had found the small child walking barefoot in the protests. FOP did not return Posten’s request for comment on the positions.
The Philadelphia Police Department did not immediately return The Post’s request for comment on the incident involving Young and her family Thursday night, but the department told the Inquirer that its internal affairs had opened an investigation.
The sun had risen Tuesday morning before Young was finally reunited with his 2-year-old son. Police held Young for several hours but eventually released her without charge, her lawyers said. The boy’s family then took him to the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, where doctors treated him for the head injury and then released him.
Family lawyers said police have not yet told Young where to find the damaged SUV or family belongings that were inside it, including her son’s hearing aids.
“She was not out looting or doing anything,” Mincey said. “She was not even charged with a crime.”