Attorneys for a woman who was beaten by Philadelphia police officers in October say a $2 million payment from the city is not enough, contending that more than a dozen officers involved should be fired and prosecuted.
An officer and a sergeant were fired in May for their participation in an incident involving Rickia Young, a 29-year-old single mother who was driving through West Philadelphia when she was pulled out of her vehicle by police, beaten, and separated from her toddler.
The melee, which was captured on video and shared widely on social media, happened hours after officers fatally shot a 27-year-old Black man blocks away. The man, Walter Wallace Jr., approached police while wielding a knife during what relatives described as a mental health crisis.
In addition to the officers fired in connection with the assault on Young, 15 are awaiting internal disciplinary proceedings, department officials said. Young’s lawyer Riley Ross III on Tuesday said District Attorney Larry Krasner should “bring criminal charges against those officers and hold them personally accountable for their actions.”
Krasner wouldn’t confirm a criminal investigation is underway but said he hoped to provide an update “soon.”
Young’s agreement with the city, reached after negotiations with her lawyers, included a pledge that she would not sue. But it did not include a commitment from the city to discipline the officers involved, according to another of her attorneys, Kevin Mincey.
“The video to me is clear that more than two officers that were fired participated in the physical assault,” he said. “I can’t understand how those people would be allowed to continue to wear the uniform of the Philadelphia Police Department.”
Asked about the payment to Young during an unrelated news conference Tuesday, Mayor Jim Kenney apologized and said, “What happened to her was unconscionable.”
“We went through a lot of problems over the course of the last 17, 18 months,” he said of the Police Department. “A lot of things need to be rebuilt.”
In an interview Tuesday, Young said achieving justice goes “beyond the money.” She said she feels lingering effects every day, including back pain as a result of her physical injuries, as well as struggles with anxiety and anger.
She said she experiences flashbacks to the night of the incident, feeling an overwhelming sense she could have been killed.
“My life is way more valuable than some money,” she said. “I never thought in a million years I would be right here, going through what I’m going through, trying to rebuild myself, trying to get past this situation. It’s not going to happen overnight.”
Young said it was in the wee hours of the morning Oct. 27 when her friend’s 16-year-old son, whom she refers to as a nephew, called to say he needed a ride from West Philadelphia. Protests over the police killing of Wallace had begun hours earlier and filled the streets, with some people clashing with police along the 52nd Street corridor. Dozens of officers were injured that night, including one who was hospitalized after she was struck by a pickup truck.
Just before 2 a.m., Young had picked up her nephew — with her then-2-year-old son in tow — and drove on Chestnut Street toward 52nd. She said she tried to make a U-turn when officers encircled the vehicle. Some bashed in her windows with batons, and officers could be seen on video taken by a bystander pulling her and the teenager out of the SUV and beating them.
Officers then handcuffed Young, put her in a police van, and drove her to police headquarters, then to the hospital to receive medical treatment. Her mother, Dorothy Young, said she found the toddler miles away in Center City, sitting in a cruiser with two police officers.
Neither Young nor the teenager was charged with a crime.
But she said the officers she encountered that night should be.
“They thought they were going to get away with that night,” she said. “But the things that took place ... it’s outrageous. It’s not acceptable at all.”
Staff writer Christian Hetrick contributed article.