Attorneys representing a black mother in Philadelphia are accusing local police of endangering her 2-year-old son during an altercation that took place on Monday night amid violent demonstrations against the shooting of Walter Wallace. The lawyers also allege that the Fraternal Order of Police union used still photos of the act to promote “propaganda” on social media.
The Washington Post reported that the union shared an image on social media showing a police officer holding the child with the following caption: “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.”
Attorneys Riley H. Ross III and Kevin Mincey stated that the picture that the union shared on social media was misleading. The boy was actually taken from the back seat of an SUV by police officers who had just broken the windows and manhandled and arrested the mother.
“It’s propaganda,” Ross told the Post. “Using this kid in a way to say, ‘This kid was in danger and the police were only there to save him,’ when the police actually caused the danger. That little boy is terrified because of what the police did.”
The police union has deleted the pictures after the real story was exposed.
Ross posted a tweet informing users about what really happened:
“1/ This post by @GLFOP is a lie. My firm @MinceyFitzRoss represents this boy and his mother. This photo was taken moments after police attacked their vehicle, busted out the windows, ripped the mother from her car and assaulted her.”
1/ This post by @GLFOP is a lie. My firm @MinceyFitzRoss represents this boy and his mother. This photo was taken moments after police attacked their vehicle, busted out the windows, ripped the mother from her car and assaulted her. pic.twitter.com/6dmDfoBe2B
— Riley H. Ross III (@AttorneyRoss) October 30, 2020
According to the attorneys, 28-year-old Rickia Young borrowed her sister’s car and drove to West Philadelphia to pick up her teenage nephew from a friend’s home. She turned onto a street where protesters were clashing with police.
After Young tried to turn the vehicle around, officers swarmed the car, and shattered the windows. The footage shows the officers breaking the glass and dragging Young and her 16-year-old nephew out of the car and throwing them to the ground.
The attorneys explained that Young was taken to the hospital with a bleeding head and bruises all over her body. She wasn’t able to see her son for hours. “Her face was bloodied and she looked like she had been beaten by a bunch of people on the street,” one of the attorneys told The Post. “She is still in pain.”
Young’s nephew was also injured during the incident, according to Mincey. Her toddler son was hit in the head, which left a large bump on his forehead.
According to Mincey, Young called her mother while in police custody, asking her to find the 2-year-old. After hours of searching for him, the grandmother found the boy sitting in his car seat in the back of a police cruiser. Glass from the SUV’s windows was still in the car seat.
The authorities finally released Young on Tuesday morning without charging her. They took the boy to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where he was treated for the head injury. Police have not yet told Young where she can find her sister’s damaged vehicle or the belongings that were inside, which include her son’s hearing aids. “She wasn’t out looting or out doing anything,” Mincey said. “She wasn’t even charged with a crime.”
The shooting of Walter Wallace ignited a series of violent demonstrations in the city that have resulted in multiple arrests. Since Monday, the day the shooting occurred, officers have been tasked with suppressing violent activity in the city, and some were even injured in the process.
However, this does not give the police the right to treat an American citizen the way they treated Young and her son and nephew. The footage clearly shows that the mother was trying to turn around after realizing that she had gone down a street where rioting was taking place. Since the protests would have just started, it was likely that she didn’t know what was occurring at the time.
The notion that officers would then surround the car, break the windows, and drag Young and her nephew out of the vehicle is reprehensible. Government officials do not have the right to accost citizens in this manner for no valid reason. The police department stated that they would conduct an internal affairs investigation of this encounter. Hopefully, this will be one of the few situations where officers are held accountable for overstepping their bounds.
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