A former Philadelphia police officer has been arrested and charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief for his role in the assault of a 27-year-old mother during a protest in October 2020.
The encounter occurred on Oct. 27, 2020 amid protests in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Black father of eight with a known history of mental illness.
Just hours after the shooting, Rickia Young had taken a wrong turn down a one-way street and found herself in the middle of a protest when a horde of police swarmed her vehicle.
Cell phone video captured from a window above the mayhem, shows dozens of police officers hitting Rickia’s SUV with batons, smashing her windows, and dragging her and her 16-year-old nephew out of the car while beating them.
Officers took her 2-year-old son out of the back of the car and took him away. Later the National Fraternal Order of Police would post a photo of a white, female officer holding the child on social media. The photo was captioned with a false story, saying they saved the child after finding him roaming the streets with no shoes.
Young said she was not part of the protest but was in the area picking up her nephew, who was stuck in West Philadelphia and was concerned about getting home amid the tension between protesters and police.
After picking up her nephew, she started to head back home when she found herself amid a large group of protesters and police officers, on a blocked-off Street. She said she tried to make a U-turn but had to stop to avoid hitting protesters who began running by her vehicle. That’s when police officers swarmed her car and pulled her and her nephew out.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner announced on Thursday that Darren Kardos, 42, has been arrested and charged.
According to a statement from the district attorney, Kardos is accused of pulling Young out of her vehicle by her hair, “after which she was struck by fists, batons and a number of unknown objects.”
She was also sprayed with mace, the statement said. One of Young’s attorneys stated she had swelling on her face and body, a swollen trachea and was bleeding. Young was never charged.
“Suddenly and without warning, 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,” Riley Ross, a lawyer for Young, said at a news conference in September.
After an internal affairs investigation, Kardos and another officer were fired and 14 other officers are awaiting disciplinary proceedings through the department’s Police Board of Inquiry, a city spokesman said in September.
Krasner said in an interview that the charges are the product of an investigation of the chaotic scene and are an important step in the city’s effort to restore trust in the justice system and demonstrate that it is “even handed.”
“The law applies equally to people in uniform and people who are not in uniform,” he said, declining to say if the investigation was continuing.
In a Zoom news conference on Thursday, Young said that she now gets nervous and scared every time there’s a police officer in a car behind her. She had a message for Mr. Kardos: “You could have talked to me. I’m very easy to talk to. What you did to me, what you did to me in front of my son, was not acceptable.”
In Septement, Young’s lawyers filed a case against the Fraternal Order of Police for the since-deleted social media post it made that stated Young’s son was “wandering around barefoot in an area that was experiencing complete lawlessness.” The post, which included an image of a female officer hugging the child, stated, “The only thing this Philadelphia Police Officer cared about in that moment was protecting this child.”
“We are not your enemy,” it continued. “We are the Thin Blue Line. And WE ARE the only thing standing between Order and Anarchy.”
“The FOP all but accused Young of abandoning her child amid a violent situation when the truth is far from that,” Krasner said Thursday. “To put it mildly, this is shameful. And it is despicable. And it is stepping on people to play politics with human lives.”
Young was awarded a $2 million settlement from the city last year.
The next court date for Kardos is scheduled for April 29.