Rickia Young Speaks Out After Being Beaten and Having Son Taken by Officers During Philadelphia Protests

Rickia Young's story first came to light in late October, when the biggest police union in the country posted a photo of her son being held by a white officer.

reckia young

Image via Getty/ Mark Makela

reckia young

A Philadelphia mother, her 2-year-old son, and her 16-year-old nephew were brutalized by police in late October during protests sparked by the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr.

In a new story from the The Philadelphia InquirerRickia Young says that she and her son are physically and emotionally traumatized after the incident, which saw officers smashing the windows of her SUV, beating her, and taking her son away from her. The bones in her nephew’s hand were shattered, which necessitated surgery. Young’s body was extremely bruised, and she suffered from internal bleeding as well as a swollen trachea. Her left arm is also still in a sling due to shoulder pain—and her son had a welt on his head.

“It’s not all bad cops out here,” she told the Inquirer. “But that night, in my eyes, every single last one of them were evil.”

Young explained that she was at her sister’s house on Oct. 26 as demonstrations swept across the city. That day, two Philadelphia officers had shot and killed 27-year-old Wallace, firing over a dozen shots at him while he was experiencing a mental health crisis.

Later that night, at around 1 a.m., Young’s nephew asked for a ride home from his friend’s house. She brought her 2-year-old son with her because she didn’t want to leave him alone, and was hoping the car would put him to sleep. She picked her nephew up and was on her way back home, turning right onto a one-way street at around 1:45 a.m. “It was just like, wrong turn, all hell broke loose,” she said. “Literally, hell broke loose.”

April Rice took video of the incident from her home. In the video, about two dozen officers surround the SUV. The police then smash the windows with batons and then pull Young and her 2-year-old from the car.

Riots broke out in phillidelohia after another black guy got killed by a police officer. Philly PD appear to smash the windows of a passing vehicle with kids inside. 🚨@MrCheckpoint #PhillyRiots #MadeinLagos #wizkid pic.twitter.com/c5u8FPIvYX

— Lagos Pikin Reports (@LagosReports) October 29, 2020

Young said she was thrown onto the ground and beaten with batons, fists, and feet for what seemed “like forever.” The footage shows at least eight officers circling her as she’s on the ground. She said that police also sprayed a chemical agent that made her face feel like it was “melting” while in handcuffs. Her teenage nephew said it made his eyes burn.

“An officer said to me, ‘You can breathe hard all you want, I’m still not taking off these handcuffs,’” she recalled. “And I just kept asking, ‘Where’s my son? Where’s my son?’ Nobody would answer me.”

Young was then loaded into a police van with two other women. She kept yelling, “Where is my son?” to which the driving officer said going to “a better place.” The officer clarified that by saying “DHS.” “My heart just flew out my chest at that point,” she said.

She was first driven to police headquarters, then to a nearby hospital where she received an X-ray and was given pain meds. She was discharged, taken to a holding cell, and told she was being held for assaulting police. While she was in jail, Young’s mother and sister attempted to find Young’s toddler, finally locating him in a police car with two officers near a DHS office after 2 a.m.

Later, they released Young without charges. Her vehicle—which belongs to her sister—remains in an impound lot.

Young’s story first came to light a few days after the incident, when the national Fraternal Order of Police—the country’s biggest police union—shared an image of her son barefoot and being held by a young, white female officer. The photo went viral on Facebook, as the union claimed that he “was lost during the violent riots in Philadelphia, wandering around barefoot in an area that was experiencing complete lawlessness.”

While Young has never considered herself to be an activist, she is now calling for justice. “I’m speaking up for everyone who has lost they voice and who is scared to speak up. I’m gonna speak up for them. Because it needs to stop,” she said. “Justice has to be served.”

An internal probe has since been launched by Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, and five officers from various districts have been placed on restricted duty as the investigation remains open. Both Young and her nephew have not been charged with a crime.

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