A black woman who was pulled out of her car and beaten by Philadelphia police during a protest last year is suing a police association for posting what she calls a misleading photo of her “terrified” little child on social media, lawyers say for the woman.
The Fraternal Order of Police, the country’s largest police association, posted a Facebook photo of Rickia Young’s then 2-year-old son in the arms of a police officer last October, claiming the child had been lost and wandered aimlessly. But police had actually taken the boy after officers smashed Young’s car windows with the child inside, dragged Young out of the car and beat her, according to Young’s lawyers. She had not broken any laws.
“I will never forget what these officers did to us that night,” Young said at a recent news conference. “For them to portray me as this kind of mother who would not know or worry about where her child was while chaos was happening around is very hurtful. All to promote a political message about fear of black people and civilian protesters. ”
“Our physical injuries can heal,” she added, “but the pain of seeing these pictures of my son in prison on an officer and the horrible caption written to describe this picture can never heal.”
Young is seeking more than $ 50,000 in damages in the case, as her lawyers said she endured harassment, anxiety, depression and a damaged reputation as a result of the social media post.
Young filed the lawsuit on September 9, a few days before it was announced that the city of Philadelphia had agreed to settle a previous lawsuit stemming from the attack and would pay her $ 2 million. In addition, two officers were fired after an investigation, and more than a dozen others were awaiting disciplinary action, according to The New York Times.
Police Association officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.
Young’s latest complaint accuses the police union of making a “deliberate lie” to “promote its propaganda”.
The now deleted post read: “This child was lost during the violent riots in Philadelphia and wandered barefoot around an area that experienced complete lawlessness. The only thing this Philadelphia police officer cared about at that moment was to protect this child. We are not your enemy. We are the thin blue line. And WE ARE the only thing that stands between order and anarchy. ”
The post was shared at least 700 times.
Lawyers believe the image presented a misleading version of the night’s events and quickly became the feed of social media as tensions rose after police officers responded to a call from 911 that shot Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old black man, dead.
Young, a nurse assistant, was driving early on Oct. 27 to pick up a family friend when she accidentally ran into a crowd of protesters. She was trying to drive away and make a three-point turn when police stopped her.
The complaint accused the police association of portraying Young’s son as a “neglected and abandoned child” in order to “promote his own political propaganda” by the police as the child’s savior and defenders of order. The union’s supporters of social media were outraged and demanded that the authorities take Young’s child from her, according to the complaint.
“This was a picture of a white female police officer holding this black boy. It has not lost us the symbolism that they tried to highlight with the post, as if she were the savior of the black child and the only one who could save him, ”said Riley H. Ross III, a lawyer representing Young. “The fact that the child was only in the officer’s arms because of what the police themselves did to his mother and him makes that post even more despicable.”
Another Young lawyer, Kevin Mincey, said during the press conference that the Police Association deliberately shared the image on social media just days before the presidential election to increase political support for the organization.
Ross said in a press release that the lawsuit against the union is “the next step in keeping our promise to hold all parties accountable for the damage caused to Mrs Young’s reputation by false reports and photographs published immediately after the attack.”
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