The New York City Police Department has launched an investigation after officers struggled to arrest a mother and appeared to forcibly yank her toddler from her arms.
Disturbing video captured at a social services office in Brooklyn showed the 23-year-old mother, identified as Jazmine Headley, on the floor as several officers attempt to extricate her one-year-old son from her tight grip, CBS2 New York reported.
“They’re hurting my son! They’re hurting my son!” Headley shouted, clutching her child.
One of the female officers pulled the child away and could be seen waving a taser at shocked onlookers, many of whom were recording videos of the scene.
Yes, that’s the NYPD trying to yank a baby from the arms of his mother.
Follow Monae Sinclair’s Facebook link to see the entire clip, including the part where a cop waves a Taser at the bystanders who dared to suggest there was a better way to do this. https://t.co/d7MmxEglSI pic.twitter.com/GughC2nqwm
— Pat Kiernan (@patkiernan) December 10, 2018
Headley allegedly refused to leave the center for government assistance and police were reportedly called to intervene, CBS2 reported.
Nyashia Ferguson, who also captured video of the scene and posted it on social media, said she “couldn’t believe what they were doing to that child.”
Ferguson told CBS2 that the incident began when Headley was reportedly told that she could not sit on the ground at the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program office even though there were no more available chairs. After already waiting two hours for services, Headley refused to stand holding her child, and staff at the center told her she had to leave. When she did not comply, police were called and attempted to arrest the young mother after she refused to follow their instructions to leave as well.
The chaos that followed, as police said Headley resisted arrest, shocked and angered onlookers and those who viewed the video on social media. Local officials were also outraged.
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson called the video “unacceptable” and “appalling.”
This is unacceptable, appalling and heart breaking.
I’d like to understand what transpired and how these officers or the NYPD justifies this.
It’s hard to watch this video. https://t.co/5TPN03fHU6
— Corey Johnson (@CoreyinNYC) December 9, 2018
“They’re always rude,” Ferguson told the New York Times. “They think that people that are poor don’t have nothing, so you can treat them any kind of way.”
She added that the officers made the situation “way worse.”
“Being poor is not a crime,” Letitia James, New York City public advocate and state attorney general-elect wrote in a Facebook post. “No mother should have to experience the trauma and humiliation we all witnessed in this video.”
While being poor may not be a crime as James pointed out, resisting arrest is. NYPD and the officers were responding to a 911 call for harassment. Officers said that Headley was asked to leave numerous times, and after she refused, the security guards attempted to arrest her for disorderly conduct, NBC News 4 New York reported.
In a statement on Sunday, the NYPD called the incident “troubling” and explained that officers had arrived at the office after receiving a 911 call about harassment. The officers reportedly asked Headley to leave “numerous times,” and after she refused, the security guards “brought the woman to the floor,” the New York Times reported.
According to the Times:
Ms. Headley was charged with resisting arrest, acting in a manner injurious to a child, obstructing governmental administration and trespassing. The police said she refused medical treatment for herself and her son, who was placed in the care of a relative.
She could not be reached for comment on Sunday because she was being held without bail on Rikers Island, according to online corrections records and Brooklyn Defender Services, the public defender organization representing her.
The officers involved, all from the 84th Precinct, had not yet been identified but remained on full-duty status according to police spokesman, Deputy Commissioner Phillip Walzak.
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