NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Outrage and calls for action are growing over cellphone video posted online showing police officers yanking a child from his mother’s arms at a Brooklyn city agency building.
The mother, 23-year-old Jazmine Headley, can be seen in the video holding tightly to her baby son as three NYPD officers try to take the 1-year-old away.
Headley was charged with acting in a manner injurious to a child and resisting arrest. She refused medical treatment for both herself and her child, who is now in the care of a family member.
The Administration for Children’s Services was notified, and the Brooklyn district attorney’s office is investigating.
“Our Office is conducting an independent investigation into this troubling case and we are in the process of viewing all available videos and interviewing witnesses with the intention of reaching a swift decision,” a spokesperson said in a statement Monday. “We did not request any bail and Mrs. Headley’s hold is in connection with a warrant from New Jersey. We are reaching out to authorities in that state to expedite her release.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio called the confrontation a “disturbing incident.”
“Like anyone who’s watched this video, I have a lot of questions about how this was handled. NYPD & HRA will get to the bottom of what happened,” de Blasio wrote on Twitter.
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is also calling for a thorough investigation.
“This is unacceptable, appalling and heart breaking,” he tweeted Sunday. “I’d like to understand what transpired and how these officers or the NYPD justifies this.”
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams held a news conference Monday morning, calling the clash an “horrific incident.”
“Clearly our police department, the most well-trained department in the country, should be able to deescalate a situation with a baby and the mother,” Adams said. “I think the best way of telling her she could not sit on the floor was to get her a chair.”
Watch: Eric Adams calls for charges to be dropped
Adams wants any charges against the mother related to the incident dropped.
“The mother didn’t endanger the welfare of a child. The actions of the department endangered the welfare of the child. We’re calling for those charges to be immediately dropped. We’re calling for this mother to be released. And any other action that would prevent her from being able to reunite with her child, we want it to be changed,” Adams said.
Police said they were called after Headley refused to leave a center for government assistance in Boerum Hill.
Nyashia Ferguson shot the video at the SNAP Center on Bergen Street on Friday afternoon. She said the incident started because there were no chairs left and the mother sat on the ground with her child. They had been waiting in line for nearly two hours for food and child daycare services.
“The security guard, I guess she came over and told her she couldn’t sit there. So she’s like, ‘Where am I going to sit?’ She was like ‘I guess you’re going to just have to stand.’ She said, ‘Well, I’m not gonna stand with my son,'” Ferguson said. “She was like ‘What is the crime? What did I do wrong?’ And then it just escalated.”
Authorities said staff and human resources peace officers at the facility told the woman to leave several times because of what they called “disorderly conduct towards other people.” But she refused, so police were called, CBS2’s Duddridge reported.
When officers arrived, they also asked Headley to leave. When she didn’t they attempted to arrest her. They claim she resisted.
“I was just so disgusted. I couldn’t believe they was doing that to that child. I just couldn’t believe it. It was crazy,” Ferguson said. “If they would’ve just talked to her as a woman, gave her time to calm her self down, then I think it would’ve went way different. She wouldn’t be in jail.”
“These police 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. Their objective was to enforce the law while protecting the safety of this mother, her child and every person in that office, some of whom were actively making a tense situation worse,” said Patrolman’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch. “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.'”