Ex-Philly police officer charged in beating of mother during 2020 unrest

Protesters confront police during a march Tuesday, Oct. 27 in West Philadelphia.

Protesters confront police during a march Tuesday, Oct. 27 in West Philadelphia. Hundreds of demonstrators marched over the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

A former Philadelphia police officer has been charged for his role in beating a mother in West Philadelphia during a protest against police brutality in 2020.

Darren Kardos, who has since been fired from the department, was charged with aggravated assault and related offenses, District Attorney Larry Krasner announced Thursday.

The incident occurred in October 2020, in the wake of the fatal Philadelphia police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. in Cobbs Creek. Wallace’s killing led to several days of protests, including one on Oct. 27, when home health aid Rickia Young found herself amid the unrest in West Philadelphia.

Young, who had just picked up her teenage nephew, was instructed by police to make a U-turn. Before Young could extract herself from the scene, officers swarmed her SUV — bashing its windows in — and pulled Young and her 2-year-old son from the vehicle. Officers beat and maced Young and kept her away from her son for several hours.

Rickia Young speaks during a press conference
Rickia Young reached a $2 million settlement with the city in September. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)
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Kardos is accused of smashing in Young’s SUV windows with his baton and pulling Young out of her vehicle by her hair. The District Attorney’s Office said Kardos also made claims about Young’s actions that “were not corroborated by video evidence.” Kardos could not be reached for comment.

Later that night, the National Fraternal Order of Police posted a Facebook photo of a PPD officer holding Young’s son, saying he was, “lost during the violent riots in Philadelphia, wandering around barefoot in an area that was experiencing complete lawlessness.” The post concluded by saying, “We are the Thin Blue Line. And WE ARE the only thing standing between Order and Anarchy.”

Krasner, referencing the “false, inflammatory” post, said, “that child was ripped away from the child’s mother, who was brutalized.”

The FOP, which took down the post a day later, “all but accused Ms. Young of abandoning her child,” Krasner said. The FOP declined to comment on the charges against Kardos.

District Attorney Larry Krasner addresses the media during a press conference
District Attorney Larry Krasner addresses the media during a press conference Thursday, April 21, 2022. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)
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Hours after the aggravated assault against Young, police released her without filing any charges.

The city reached a $2 million settlement in September with Young over the violent assault. The city told Young’s lawyers that the agreement was the largest pre-trial settlement for a police brutality case of its kind.

Assistant District Attorney Lyandra Retacco, of the Special Investigations Unit, said a combination of police bodycams and cell phone video of the incident prompted the charges announced Thursday.

“The video clearly made out the case against former officer Kardos,” said Retacco.

Krasner would not say whether more officers would face charges.

WHYY’s Alan Yu and Tom MacDonald contributed reporting.

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