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
The NYPD called the video "troubling" and said it was investigating
The woman was charged with resisting arrest, trespassing and other charges
A disturbing video shows a group of police officers trying to pull a 1-year-old child from the arms of his mother, who is lying on the floor of a social services office in Brooklyn.
The NYPD called the video "troubling" and said the encounter was under review.
"No mother should have to experience the trauma and humiliation we all witnessed in this video,” Public Advocate and Attorney General-elect Letitia James said.
The video shows 23-year-old Jazmine Headley laying on the floor of the Human Resources Administration office on Bergen Street on Friday with a group of police officers surrounding her.
She clutches her year-old son to her chest and shouts, "They're hurting my son! They're hurting my son!"
At one point, 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!"
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," Letitia James said. "The actions of the NYPD in this video are appalling and contemptible."
She called for an investigation and a "transparent accounting of how this horrific situation occurred."
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson called the video "unacceptable, appalling and heart breaking [sic]."
Department of Social Services Commissioner Steve Banks appeared to agree, announcing Monday that two peace officers from HRA were put on leave and be placed on modified duty when they return to wor pending the department's investigation.
"HRA centers must be safe havens for New Yorkers needing to access benefits to improve their lifes," he said. "I am deeply troubled by the incident and a thorough review was launched of the weekend to get to the bottom of what happened."
Meanwhile, Headley, of Brooklyn, was charged with resisting arrest, acting in a manner injurious to a child, obstructing governmental administration and criminal trespass, the NYPD said. Police said there was also an open warrant for her from Mercer County, New Jersey, in a credit card fraud case. She's being held at Rikers Island due to that warrant.
She refused medical treatment for both herself and her son, police said. No officers were harmed.
The boy, Damone, is now 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 a "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.'"