What to Know
A video shows a group of police officers ripping a baby from the arms of a woman on the floor of a Brooklyn social services office [hhmc]
The NYPD called the video "troubling" and said it was investigating; the footage stirred outrage across the city and beyond [hhmc]
The woman was charged with resisting arrest, trespassing and other charges; the Brooklyn DA said Tuesday he was dropping that case[hhmc]
The Brooklyn charges against a mother who was seen wailing on the floor of a social services office, her 1-year-old son in her arms, as a group of officers forcefully try to snatch the baby from her have been dropped, the district attorney's office said in a statement Tuesday.
Jazmine Headley, 23, had faced charges of resisting arrest, criminal trespass and other offenses stemming from the caught-on-camera fracas on the floor of the Human Resources Administration office on Bergen Street last week. The video, which showed her surrounded by officers trying to grab her baby as she clutched him to her chest, wailing, stirred outrage across the city and beyond.
Headley was expected to be released from Rikers, where she has been held since the encounter, Tuesday evening. A New Jersey fraud case against her remains open.
"Like everyone who watched the arrest of Jazmine Headley, I was horrified by the violence depicted in the video and immediately opened an investigation into this case. It is clear to me that this incident should have been handled differently," Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a statement. "Continuing to pursue this case will not serve any purpose and I therefore moved today to dismiss it immediately in the interest of justice."
Outrage Grows Over Video Showing Cops Ripping Baby Away
"The consequences this young and desperate mother has already suffered as a result of this arrest far outweigh any conduct that may have led to it: she and her baby have been traumatized, she was jailed on an unrelated warrant and may face additional collateral consequences."
The NYPD has called the video "troubling" and said it is reviewing the encounter.
New Jersey authorities planned to transfer Headley to Mercer County Wednesday morning, where she was charged with two counts of third-degree credit card theft and one count of fourth-degree trafficking in personal identifying information in March 2017, the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office said.
Headley's lawyer maintains she wasn't involved in the theft, but was in a car with a man who stole cards.
In her own statement, Lisa Schreibersdorf, the executive director and founder of Brooklyn Defender Services, said the group was "filing a special application to ask the judge to release her on the New Jersey matter" on Tuesday.
At one point in the footage taken inside the HRA office, an officer is seen forcibly ripping the child from the mother's arms, but Headley doesn't let go. Other people in the crowded office screamed, "Oh my God!" and "Look what they're doing to her!"
Peace Officers on Leave After Seen Prying Baby From Mother
At least one officer brandished a stun gun.
The NYPD said they were called after HRA officers and staff were unsuccessful in removing her from the facility. They cited disorderly conduct and said she was blocking the hallway.
Nyashia Ferguson, who shot the video, said on Facebook that Headley was asked to leave when she sat down on the floor because all of the chairs were full.
“Being poor is not a crime," Public Advocate and Attorney General-elect Letitia James said. "The actions of the NYPD in this video are appalling and contemptible."
"No mother should have to experience the trauma and humiliation we all witnessed in this video,” she added.
Department of Social Services Commissioner Steve Banks appeared to agree, saying Monday that two peace officers from HRA were put on leave and will be placed on modified duty when they return to work pending the department's investigation.
Headley, of Brooklyn, refused medical treatment for both herself and her son, police said. No officers were harmed.
The boy, Damone, is in the custody of his grandmother, Jacqueline Jenkins, who spoke to News 4 New York Monday.
"I can't believe the NYPD, how they handled it, the force of what they did to grab my grandson like that," she said. "He was like a rag doll."
She continued, "Maybe she should have given the baby up. But understand if they gave her space, she would have gone up and left."
Headley's attorney, Lisa Schreibersdorf of Brooklyn Defender Services, called it a "violent encounter where the child was being used as a pawn."
Patrick Lynch, the president of the NYPD's rank-and-file union, said in a statement Monday that officers were put in an "impossible situation."
"They didn't create the dispute at the HRA office — as always, they were called in to deal with the inevitable fallout when the rest of our City government fails in its task," he said.
He added, "The event would have unfolded much differently if those at the scene had simply complied with the officers' lawful orders. The immediate rush to condemn these officers leaves their fellow cops wondering: when confronted with a similar impossible scenario, what do you want us to do? The answer cannot be 'do nothing.'"