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Lawyer Says Police Beat Up, Arrested Mother Who Accidentally Drove Into Protest Area And Used Photo Of Her Toddler As ‘Propaganda’

GABRIELLA AUDI/AFP via Getty Images

Shelby Talcott Media Reporter
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The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) claimed in a now-deleted Facebook post that a black toddler was found wandering the streets alone during “violent riots in Philadelphia,” but lawyers for the family involved tell a very different story.

The FOP is America’s largest police union and posted a photograph on social media showing a female officer holding a young child, his arms wrapped around her neck. The union claimed that the “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,” the post added. “We are not your enemy. We are the Thin Blue Line. And WE ARE the only thing standing between Order and Anarchy.” (RELATED: REPORT: Poll Finds Nine Out Of 10 Americans Think Police Brutality And Racism Are Problems)

Riley H. Ross III, an attorney for the family of that young child, disputed the FOP’s now-deleted claims, tweeting that it was “a lie” and that the photograph “was taken moments after police attacked their vehicle, busted out the windows, ripped the mother from her car and assaulted her.”

“It’s propaganda,” Ross III told The Washington 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 Philadelphia Police Department noted that the photograph was not tweeted by the department, but added that “the incident is under investigation by the Philadelphia Police Internal Affairs Division.”

The FOP issued the following statement to the Caller, but did not immediately respond to follow-up questions regarding the source of their claims and whether a public notice or apology will be issued:

“On 10/29, the National Fraternal Order of Police posted a photo of a Philadelphia police officer carrying a young child at the scene of a civil disturbance,” Jessica T. Cahill, a press liaison for the FOP, wrote in the statement Friday. “The National FOP subsequently learned of conflicting accounts of the circumstances under which the child came to be assisted by the officer and immediately took the photo and caption down.”

The incident in question occurred early Tuesday morning, where police and protesters clashed following the death of Walter Wallace Jr.

Wallace, 27, reportedly had a knife and was shot by police Monday. His family said he was suffering from a mental health crisis, a family lawyer said, according to CBS Local Philly.

Kevin Mincey, another lawyer for the young child’s family, said his client and mother of the boy, Rickia Young, was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Young, 28, used her sister’s car that evening to pick up her teenage nephew from his friend’s house, Mincey said, according to the Post.

“She was driving back to their home, hoping the purring car engine would lull her young son to sleep, when she turned onto Chestnut Street, where police and protesters had collided,” the WaPo report reads. “She found herself unexpectedly driving toward a line of police officers who told her to turn around, Mincey said.”

Young appeared to try to turn the car around before being surrounding by police officers, who shattered the car windows and pulled her and the teenager out of the vehicle, according to a video taken by April Rice and obtained by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“Was there kids in there?” Rice is heard saying on the video.

The Inquirer wrote up the incident before the FOP’s claim. Rice told them that it was “surreal” and “traumatic” to watch. The FOP deleted their post 30 minutes after The Inquirer reached out for comment, the publication wrote.

Young was detained for a time after being ripped out of the vehicle and taken to the hospital due to a head injury, according to Mincey, who said that she had also been badly bruised on her left side from police. Young was separated from her child for hours and her teenage nephew was also injured, according to the lawyer.

“Her face was bloodied and she looked like she had been beaten by a bunch of people on the street,” Mincey told the Post. “She is still in pain.”

“She wasn’t out looting or out doing anything,” he added. “She wasn’t even charged with a crime.”