PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia judge dismissed all charges against a former police officer accused of assaulting a woman who accidentally drove a sport utility vehicle into a 2020 protest — but prosecutors quickly refiled the case.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the judge's action Friday came after a police officer who was a witness failed to appear Friday for the aggravated assault trial of 42-year-old Darren Kardos. The woman wasn't in court either, but prosecutors said they had video evidence to put the case on without her testimony.
The municipal court judge agreed to a defense request to dismiss the case while acknowledging that prosecutors were likely to refile the charges — something Assistant District Attorney Lyandra Retacco said was done later in the day. Kardos was in the courtroom but did not comment.
Kardos, a seven-year veteran of the force, was the only officer charged after the October 2020 events that involved scores of officers and occurred hours after the fatal police shooting of 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr. Relatives said Wallace, who was Black, was having a mental health crisis and lunged toward police with a knife.
Within hours, protests erupted and some in west Philadelphia began burglarizing stores and vandalizing police vehicles. During the unrest, a north Philadelphia woman who said she was driving to pick up her teenage nephew in west Philadelphia was stopped by police. Video showed officers surrounding the SUV, breaking the windows, pulling the woman and a passenger to the ground and then removing the woman's 2-year-old son from the back seat.
The woman, a home health care aide, was later released without charges. Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said the officers had “terrorized” the woman and the mayor called their actions “absolutely appalling.” The case drew national attention and the city settled a civil lawsuit for $2 million.
Kardos was fired for excessive use of force and physical abuse with a baton. Another officer was not charged but was fired. Kardos was charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, possession of an instrument of a crime, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief.