Officers pry 1-year-old from Brooklyn mom's arms during arrest; police investigating

WABC logo
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Officers pry 1-year-old from mom's arms during arrest
Lucy Yang has the latest on the case of a baby pried from a mother's arms in Brooklyn.

BOERUM HILL, Brooklyn (WABC) -- Two peace officers from the Human Resources Administration will be placed on modified duty after shocking video showed an excruciating tug of war between a group of officers and a mother trying to hold on to her baby. It all apparently started because there was nowhere for the young mother to sit.

Jazmine Headley, 23, is now facing a slew of charges, but Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is calling for those charges to be dropped. The NYPD is calling the video "troubling," while Headley's outraged family is demanding justice.

The commissioner of the city's Department of Social Services says he's "deeply troubled" by the situation and a "thorough" review is underway.

It was pandemonium inside the Human Resources Administration building on Bergen Street in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, as police and HRA security officers apparently tried to take the 1-year-old boy from Headley so they could arrest her.

Full video of arrest:

Video posted to social media shows a group of New York police officers pulling a 1-year-old old boy from his mother's arms at a social services center.

"I was devastated to see something like that happen to my daughter and grandson, and how this officer yanking on my grandson to get him out of my daughter's arms," Headley's mother Jacqueline Jenkins said. "I want people fired, I really do, y'all shouldn't be working out of a facility where people every day have kids and you don't have any understanding of caring. They are there to take care of their business like everybody else."

She says Headley is now in jail and is barred from seeing her son, Damone. According to Jenkins, Headley had gone to the HRA building on Friday morning to ask for day care vouchers for her baby so she could work as a cleaner.

Eyewitness News was told the city agency was slow and crowded, so there were no chairs available, and Headley sat on the floor with her son to wait her turn.

WATCH: Officials call on NYPD to drop charges

Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks released the following statement:

"HRA centers must be safe havens for New Yorkers needing to access benefits to improve their lives. I am deeply troubled by the incident and a thorough review was launched over the weekend to get to the bottom of what happened. I am reinforcing efforts to train officers and staff to better defuse situations before the NYPD is called for assistance and directing refresher de-escalation trainings for HRA Peace Officers and FJC security staff immediately. The HRA Peace Officers who were involved in this incident are currently on leave, and they will be placed on modified duty when they return to work pending our investigation of what happened."

Nyasia Ferguson took the video and confirms that both Headley and her son were not blocking any doors or passageways. When security guards ordered Headley to stand, Eyewitness News is told the mother refused because there were no seats and she had her baby. A supervisor was called - and then police.

"She called five other security guards, all harassing her, bothering her," Ferguson said. "Everyone...was like, 'leave the girl alone, she's not bothering anyone, just sitting there like all day.' They kept harassing her."

She was unable to work or get the child care voucher. Advocates argue her crime was not resisting arrest or trespassing or harming her own child, but simply seeking help from an agency that then had her arrested.

"I was just so disgusted and scared," Ferguson said. "I thought the cops supposed to help you. They just straight up came and attacked the lady."

Headley was set behind bars until her court hearing on Thursday, but the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office said Monday it is not seeking bail in the case. However, authorities say she has an outstanding warrant in Mercer County, New Jersey, and that they will attempt to expedite her release to authorities there or ask them to rescind their warrant.

"Our office is conducting an independent investigation into this troubling case, and we are in the process of reviewing all available videos and interviewing witnesses with the intention of reaching a swift decision," a spokesperson said. "We did not request any bail, and Ms. 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."

Many have expressed outrage after seeing the video, and Mayor Bill de Blasio posted about it on Twitter.

"This was a disturbing incident," he wrote. "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."

NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill also tweeted about the incident, saying investigators are examining video.

"As we investigate Friday's arrest in Brooklyn, I'll tell you the video is very disturbing to me - as PC, & as a dad," O'Neill wrote. "Also, #NYPD cops have a very tough job. We were called to a chaotic situation and we're looking at all available video to determine why certain decisions were made."

Headley is charged with resisting arrest, obstruction, trespassing and acting in a manner injurious to a child.

7 On Your Side Investigates has previously reported on several disturbing incidents involving HRA security officers in Manhattan.


* More Brooklyn news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube