Driving school

Ex-officer charged with assault on his mother driving near protest

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A fired Philadelphia police officer has been arrested on aggravated assault and other charges of beating a mother who was pulled from her SUV by police after accidentally driving into a civil disturbance with her son 2 years in the car.

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

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

Young’s attorney, Kevin Mincey, said litigation was still pending against the National Fraternal Order of Police over a photo the union tweeted on the night of the unrest. It showed a Philadelphia officer holding Young’s son with a caption claiming police found the child wandering around without shoes in the melee and calling the officers heroes.

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

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

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

Prosecutors did not say whether they expected any 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 spokesperson for the Fraternal Order of Police at Lodge 5 declined to comment Thursday.

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

In a call with reporters Thursday, Young said she was happy but in shock. She and her son still live 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 aren’t serving and protecting us.”

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

Young, a home health aide, said she saw the protests on television and traveled 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 picking up her nephew, she accidentally entered the fray around 1.45am as police clashed with protesters. The police told him to turn around. While she was doing so, officers swarmed into her car, smashed windows and injured her and her nephew as they pulled them out of the vehicle. His nephew would later need surgery to repair the broken bones in his hand.

Young spent the next few hours at police headquarters and in a hospital. She was bruised, bleeding from the head and had been sprayed massively. His mother went looking for her son, whom she found in a police car with a mark on his head and glass in his car seat, his lawyers said in an interview.