NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio finally broken his near silence Wednesday on an incident that for days has generated horror around the country.
The mayor appeared to side with the cops and fault Human Resources Administration peace officers.
That prompted CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer to demand some answers.
Missing in action for days, Mayor de Blasio finally voiced his thoughts on what happened to a 23-year-old mother who went to a Brooklyn food stamp office for help and ended up in jail, her son brutally jerked from her arms.
“Disturbing, shocking, unacceptable, can’t happen again,” the mayor said.
It was the first time de Blasio spoke publicly since the video of Jazmine Headley surfaced — and went viral — over the weekend.
That prompted Kramer to ask: “The whole world has been watching this video. It has been embarrassing, not only for the NYPD, the HRA and your administration, but Mr. Mayor, I guess my question is, where have you been?”
“Marcia, this report reached me Sunday evening. I reached out to the commissioners involved for an update on what had happened and why,” de Blasio said. “Until I got their side of what happened I could not speak to the public.”
Mayor de Blasio addresses Jazmine Headley’s arrest:
City council leaders, Speaker Corey Johnson and council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo were unrelenting in their criticism.
“To me, for Mayor Bill de Blasio, he should be at the forefront of this situation, and he should act as swiftly as if that was Chirlane McCray on the ground and having Dante, at that stage, grabbed from Chirlane’s arms,” Cumbo said.
Two HRA peace officers at the center of the incident were put on modified duty after the incident. The entire agency was ordered to get retrained in de-escalation tactics that all NYPD cops receive. The mayor blamed the HRA officers for creating the situation, not the cops.
Kramer: “The video that the world has seen is of two police officers — one waving a Taser around, the other one jerking a child out of his mothers arms. I wonder if you think that shows the training that police officers should have?”
“Again, Marcia, I believe that by the time the NYPD arrived the situation was already out of hand and should not have been,” de Blasio said.
Sources told CBS2 that NYPD body-worn camera video shows that when the cops first arrived they convinced Headley to leave voluntarily. However, sources say, one of the HRA officers threatened the young mother, grabbed her, causing her to fall, and then told the cops, “Grab that baby.”
“As the police officers de-escalated the situation, she began to leave. HRA then reached in and stopped her from leaving. That’s when the escalation happened again,” Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said.
Meanwhile, the head of the union representing the HRA peace officers criticized the mayor for blaming his members.
“We’re not happy about the mayor blaming the HRA or being made at HRA,” said Gregory Floyd, president of Teamsters Local 237. “I do not understand the rush to judgment.”
CBS2’s Kramer asked Mayor de Blasio if anyone would lose their jobs. He said it was too early to say, adding that the incident could have deep ramifications.
The two cops are still on active duty. The mayor apologized to Headley.