The Philadelphia Police Department has placed an officer on desk duty pending the outcome of an internal investigation into a Tuesday morning incident that saw more than a dozen officers surround an SUV, beat two passengers, and separate a two-year-old boy from his mother for several hours.
Video of the incident appears to show the 19th District officer striking the car with a baton, said Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw during a news conference Friday afternoon.
A police spokesperson said more officers could be placed on administrative duty as the investigation proceeds.
In the meantime, lawyers for the mother, 28-year-old Rickia Young, say they’re preparing to file a civil rights lawsuit against the department over the incident, which unfolded on the 5200 block of Chestnut Street in West Philadelphia around 2 a.m.
“This is just another example of them taking it all the way to 100 from zero out of nowhere. I don’t know how they’re going to justify the conduct of those officers that day. I don’t think that they can,” said Kevin Mincey, one of Young’s lawyers, on Friday.
Young, a home health care aide who lives near Temple University, was on her way home after picking up her 16-year-old nephew from a friend’s house in West Philadelphia, said Mincey. She brought along her two-year-old son, hoping the car ride would put him to sleep.
Mincey said when she turned down Chestnut Street she found herself “smack dab” in the middle of a confrontation between police officers blocking the intersection of 52nd and Chestnut and a loose group of protestors who gathered hours after the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr.
“The officers ordered her to turn around and go back the other way, so she starts to do that. That’s when the police officer’s swarm her car,” he said.
It’s unclear why.
Moments later, officers yanked Young and her nephew out of the car and proceeded to beat Young. Her son was soon retrieved from the back seat by another officer.
Hours passed before mother and son were reunited, said Mincey.
“When the officers put Rickia in the back of a paddywagon, there was a juvenile female in the back of the wagon as well. And somehow she still had her cell phone on her. The juvenile let Rickia use her phone to call her mother,” said Mincey.
Young’s mother tracked down her grandson as Young sat inside police headquarters with a bloody nose, swollen trachea and a sense of bewilderment.
Mincey said police told the grandmother the boy was at 15th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard. There, she found her grandson in a carseat in the back of a police car, shards of broken glass from the SUV’s broken windows still beneath him.
Two police officers sat in the front seat.
“We have no way of knowing,” said Mincey when asked how long the two-year-old had been sitting in the car.
Sometime after sunrise, police released Young. No charges were filed against her.
She and her son, who now has a knot on his forehead, are back at home recovering from their injuries.
“She’s just trying to cope the best way she can,” said Mincey. “She’s going to need therapy — physical and mental.”
A police spokesman did not respond to questions regarding Mincey’s account of the incident.
Get daily updates from WHYY News!