The city of Philadelphia has agreed to pay $2 million to a young Black mother after police officers smashed the windows of the SUV she was in, yanked her out and beat her after she inadvertently found herself in a police barricade last fall, the woman’s lawyers said on Tuesday.
The encounter happened as the woman, Rickia Young, was in the presence of her toddler and the 16-year-old son of a family friend who were also in the vehicle, said Kevin Mincey, one of Young’s lawyers.
“It’s life-changing money for Rickia and her family,” Mincey said of the settlement in an interview. “But what she went through was equally life-changing.”
The episode occurred on Oct. 27, 2020, amid protests in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Black man who police said was armed with a knife.
Hours after Wallace’s killing on Oct. 26, in a cellphone video taken by a bystander, an SUV is seen at a police barricade, and officers quickly surround the vehicle. Young, her lawyers say, was not part of the protest but had picked up the teenager, who was stuck in West Philadelphia and was “afraid of the growing tensions between the police and those protesting Mr. Wallace’s killing.”
When she started to head back home, the lawyers said, she found herself amid a large group of protesters and police officers, on a blocked-off Chestnut Street. She tried to make a U-turn but had to stop to avoid hitting protesters who began running by her vehicle, her lawyers said.
“Suddenly and without warning,” Riley Ross, another lawyer for Young, said at a news conference on Tuesday, “a pack of Philadelphia police officers wearing riot gear and wielding batons descended on the car, smashing multiple windows of the vehicle. The officers then violently yanked Ms. Young and her nephew from the vehicle and physically beat her, and him, in the street, causing significant injuries.”
After an internal affairs investigation, two officers have been fired and 14 are awaiting disciplinary proceedings through the department’s Police Board of Inquiry, a city spokesperson said.
Young, 29, and her lawyers also want criminal charges filed against the police officers involved.
“It’s clear criminal conduct — there’s no question about it,” Mincey said.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.