Attorneys representing a Black mother in Philadelphia are claiming that her 2-year-old son was put in danger and used by the country’s largest police union to promote “propaganda” on social media amid ongoing clashes between protesters and law enforcement this week following the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr.
According to The Washington Post, the Fraternal Order of Police shared an image on Facebook and Twitter of a police officer holding a young child, along with the caption: “This child was lost during the violent riots in Philadelphia, wandering around barefoot in an area that was experiencing complete lawlessness. The only thing this Philadelphia police officer cared about in that moment was protecting this child.”
However, attorneys Riley H. Ross III and Kevin Mincey say that police actually took the boy from the back seat of an SUV after destroying the windows, as well as arresting and injuring his mother, who the Post reported was later released without charges.
“It’s propaganda,” Ross told the Post. “Using this kid in a way to say, ‘This kid was in danger and the police were only there to save him,’ when the police actually caused the danger. That little boy is terrified because of what the police did.”
The Post reported that the images shared by the police union this week have since been deleted.
1/ This post by @GLFOP is a lie. My firm @MinceyFitzRoss represents this boy and his mother. This photo was taken moments after police attacked their vehicle, busted out the windows, ripped the mother from her car and assaulted her. pic.twitter.com/6dmDfoBe2B— Riley H. Ross III (@AttorneyRoss) October 29, 2020
Mincey told the Post that overnight Monday, while violent demonstrations erupted throughout the city, Rickia Young, 28, borrowed her sister’s car, put her 2-year-old son in the back seat and drove to West Philadelphia to pick up her teenage nephew from a friend’s house.
She eventually turned onto a street where police and protesters were clashing. Mincey claims that after Young attempted to turn her car around, Philadelphia officers surrounded the vehicle, shattering its windows and pulling Young and her 16-year-old nephew from the car.
A now-viral video of the incident shows officers surrounding the vehicle, shattering its windows, and removing Young and her 16-year-old nephew before pushing them to the ground and grabbing the toddler from the back seat.
Aapril Rice, who filmed the incident from her rooftop, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that watching a police officer take the baby was “surreal” and “traumatic.”
According to the Post, Mincey said Young was taken to the hospital with a bleeding head and bruises along her body, adding that she was separated from her son for hours.
The Inquirer first reported about the Fraternal Order of Police’s social media posts on Thursday.
While the Philadelphia police department did not immediately respond to the Post’s request for comment, it told the Inquirer that its internal affairs unit had opened an investigation into the incident.
Protesters have continued to clash with police after Philadelphia officers shot Wallace Monday afternoon.
According to Philadelphia police spokesperson Tanya Little, police asked Wallace to drop a knife, after which Wallace “advanced towards” the two police officers, prompting them to fire at Wallace “several times.”
Philadelphia’s local Fox affiliate reported Thursday that police had arrested 212 people and 57 officers had been injured in the days-long unrest sparked by Wallace’s death.