On Thursday, the nation’s largest police union posted a photo to social media taken during the unrest in Philadelphia this week, where hundreds of protesters clashed with officers over the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr. The Fraternal Order of Police’s posts showed a Philadelphia police officer holding a Black toddler clinging to her neck.
“This child was lost during the violent riots in Philadelphia, wandering around barefoot in an area that was experiencing complete lawlessness,” the union claimed in a tweet and Facebook post that have since been deleted. “The only thing this Philadelphia police officer cared about in that moment was protecting this child.”
But lawyers for the boy’s family say that story was a total fabrication.
She [the child’s mother] 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. She found herself unexpectedly driving toward a line of police officers who told her to turn around, Mincey said. The young mother tried to make a three-point turn when a swarm of Philadelphia officers surrounded the SUV, shattered its windows and pulled Young and her 16-year-old nephew from the car, the video shows.
A now-viral video of the confrontation shows officers throw Young and the teenager to the ground and then grab the toddler from the back seat. The scene was captured by Aapril Rice, who watched it unfold from her rooftop and told the Philadelphia Inquirer that watching a police officer take the baby was “surreal” and “traumatic.”