Ex-officer charged in assault on mother driving near protest

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This undated photo provided by the Philadelphia Police Department shows former Philadelphia Police Officer Darren Kardos. The Philadelphia District Attorney's office announced on Thursday, April 21, 2022 Kardos was arrested on aggravated assault charges in connection with the beating of a 28-year-old mother, who was pulled from her vehicle by police during civil unrest in October 2020 and then separated from her toddler. (Philadelphia Police Department via AP) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A fired Philadelphia police officer was arrested for aggravated assault and other charges in the beating of a mother who was pulled from her SUV by police after accidentally driving into civil unrest with her 2-year-old son in the car.

The interaction between Rickia Young and more than a dozen officers during the October 27, 2020 protests that followed the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace, Jr. — a Black man in mental health crisis — was recorded by at least one witness on their cellphone. The video shows a rush of officers rocking and shaking the SUV as they try to open the doors, eventually breaking the windows and pulling the passengers to the ground.

Prosecutors said Thursday that Darren Kardos, 42, was charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, possession of an instrument of a crime, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief. Court records showed he turned himself in on April 15 and was released on his own recognizance.

Young's attorney, Kevin Mincey, said litigation is still pending against the National Fraternal Order of Police because of a photo the union tweeted the night of the unrest. It showed a Philadelphia officer holding Young's son with a caption claiming police had found the child wandering shoeless in the melee and calling the officers heroes.

The post was later deleted, but was shared widely on social media.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said at a news conference Thursday that Young was driving slowly, trying to navigate out of the area, when Kardos used his baton to break the windows.

“Kardos made claims about the victim’s actions that were not corroborated by the video evidence,” Krasner said.

Prosecutors would not say whether they expected other officers to be charged in the episode, but said the investigation remains active.

An attorney for Kardos was not listed in court records, and a spokesman for the Lodge 5 Fraternal Order of Police declined to comment Thursday.

Kardos was one of two officers fired last spring over their actions during the unrest.

In a call with reporters Thursday, Young said she was happy but in shock. She and her son are still living with traumatic memories of that night, she said.

Addressing the officer, Young said, “You could have talked to me, I’m very easy to talk to. What you did to me in front of my son was not acceptable.” She added, “I have to live the rest of my life knowing that the people who are supposed to serve and protect us really don’t serve and protect us.”

The city settled a civil lawsuit for $2 million in September with Young, who was released without charges.

Young, a home healthcare aide, said she saw the protests on television and went to West Philadelphia to pick up her then 16-year-old nephew that night. She put her then 2-year-old son in the car, not wanting to leave him home alone, and hoping he might fall asleep.

After getting her nephew she accidentally drove into the fray at about 1:45 a.m. as police clashed with demonstrators. Police told her to turn around. As she did, officers swarmed her car, broke windows and injured her and her nephew as they pulled them from the vehicle. Her nephew would later need surgery to repair broken bones in his hand.

Young spent the next few hours at police headquarters and at a hospital. She was bruised, bleeding from the head and had been sprayed with mace. Her mother went in search for her son, who she found in a police cruiser with a welt on his head and glass in his car seat, her attorneys previously said in an interview.

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