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October 31, 2020

Police union removes Facebook post about Philly mother, son who were pulled from car by officers during unrest

The National Fraternal Order of Police deleted the post after learning "conflicting accounts of the circumstances" of when the photo was taken

Police Protests
FOP post SUV child Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

The National Fraternal Order of the Police received backlash and deleted a photo with false information about an incident that occured during protests in West Philadelphia on Tuesday.

The largest police union in the U.S. is receiving attention for a since-deleted social media post made during protests sparked by the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. in Philadelphia.

The National Fraternal Order of Police, whose well-known Philly chapter is FOP Lodge 5, posted the controversial photo to Facebook on Thursday. It has since been taken down, but screenshots of it circulated widely on social media after it was deleted.

The photo pictured a female police officer holding a young boy with the caption "This child was lost during the violent riots in Philadelphia, wandering around barefoot in an area that was experiencing complete lawlessness." 

This was proven untrue when a video surfaced of events that happened just prior to the photo being taken, showing the boy and his mother being violently removed from their car by a group of officers. 

Rickia Young, the mother, said she was turning the car around when she got stuck in protests that began after two police officers shot Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Black man, on Monday in West Philadelphia. 

The video was recorded by a West Philly resident from her rooftop at around 2 a.m Tuesday on the 5200 block of Chestnut Street, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. In the video, the officers are seen surrounding Young's SUV and smashing its windows with batons.

Lawyer Kevin Mincey, one of those representing Young, said that the 28-year-old was beaten and taken to the hospital where she remained handcuffed for several hours. Young was separated from her 2-year-old son during that time.

In a statement released Friday, the FOP admitted to posting the original picture and later removing the caption. It said the reason for deleting was "conflicting accounts of the circumstances."

"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 statement read. The entire post was eventually deleted.

Young has not been charged or cited with committing a crime. The Philadelphia Police Department's Internal Affairs Division then launched an investigation into the incident, the department announced Friday. 

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw called the video "quite concerning" in a press briefing Friday. 

"I still don't know all the details, but I will tell you, after viewing the video, what I saw was quite concerning," Outlaw added. "But I am very careful about what I say, because I do not know all the circumstances around it, as far as what led up to it."

One officer involved has also been placed on "restricted duty pending the outcome of the investigation," Outlaw added. 

City officials including Mayor Jim Kenney enacted another curfew order Friday night that lasted from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Saturday, in light of unrest. The National Guard is currently in Philadelphia to further aid with protests, following an order by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. 

Mayor Kenney said in briefing Friday it was "perhaps the most unprecedented time" in history for the city, but didn't say if the curfew would continue throughout Halloween weekend. 

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