NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s the video seen around the country — a young mother arrested at a Brooklyn food stamp office.
Her young son was ripped from her arms.
On Tuesday, the city social services commissioner apologized as calls mount for steps to ensure it never happens again.
CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer spoke with him one-on-one and demands answers.
There are probably no words to console Jazmine Headley, the 23-year-old mother who went to a Brooklyn food stamp office for help and ended up in jail. Her 1-year-old son was brutally pulled from her arms by cops, but Human Resources Administration commissioner Steve Banks said he would like to try.
“I would certainly say to her as a parent I apologize that you went through this horrible situation in one of our offices,” Banks said. “We’reinforcing that our offices are to be a place where people get a helping hand, not the back of the hand.”
On orders from Mayor Bill de Blasio, Banks and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill are trying to figure out what needs to happen in order to prevent such a violent incident from ever happening again.
“I think the situation for this young mother could have been de-escalated. There could have been interventions that didn’t allow it to get to this point,” Banks said.
In this case, “de-escalation” may be a code word, meaning HRA workers should be trained to handle situations without having to exacerbate tensions by calling the cops. Step one for Banks will be, “directing immediate retraining in how to de-escalate situations like this.”
Council Speaker Corey Johnson said everybody’s actions need to be evaluated.
“It’s sort of a confluence of the systemic issues that really plague our city and I think in a pretty unfair, uneven and disturbing way,” Johnson said.
Some say Headley is a symbol of how the poor are treated, but the initial probe shows the incident was not easy to diffuse. The two HRA peace officers who were put on modified duty after the incident were both injured, sources say, one of them bitten.
Sources also say NYPD body-worn camera video shows the HRA officers bringing the woman to the ground as the cops try to diffuse the situation.
The NYPD probe, sources say, is looking at a number of issues, including the Taser waved around by one cop, and whether the officers from both agencies should have cleared the room and used better crowd control before dealing with the young woman.
“I don’t know what justification can be given for that video where you see the officer multiple times trying to rip the baby away from Jazmine Headley, a 1-year-old child, a taser that is close to her head,” Johnson said.
CBS2 has also learned that Headley initially waited for about an hour to see an HRA case worker. Her wait became more prolonged because she insisted on seeing a supervisor who had a long wait list.
HRA officials are trying to reduce wait times by getting more clients to apply online.