Charges dropped against mom with child in viral video
NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - Charges were dropped against the mother seen in a viral video refusing to hand over her baby to police inside a food assistance center, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced Tuesday.
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"It is clear to me that this incident should have been handled differently," said Gonzalez via Twitter. "An HRA officer escalated the situation as Ms. Headley was about to leave the premises, creating an awful scenario of a baby being torn from his mother," wrote Gonzalez on Twitter.
After her release, Jazmine Headley, 23, told reporters Tuesday night that she was happy to be out of jail and was looking forward to seeing her son.
Police officers on Friday tried to pull the baby from Headley as they wrestled her to the floor. The video prompted outrage as well as lots of questions.
"The consequence this young and desperate mother has already suffered as a result of this arrest far outweigh any conduct that may have led to it: she and her baby have been traumatized, she was jailed on an unrelated warrant and may face additional collateral consequences," wrote Gonzalez.
Nyashia Ferguson, who posted the video Dec. 7 on Facebook under the name Monae Sinclair, told the NY Times that the mother had sat down on the floor of the social services center because of a lack of chairs. A security guard confronted her but she didn't want to move.
The office staff and Human Resources Administration peace officers made unsuccessful attempts to remove the woman "due to her disorderly conduct towards others, and for obstructing the hallway," the NYPD said. The staff then called the police.
The video shows officers dragging the woman across the floor as other officers separate the baby from her. Lying on the floor, she mouths, "I'm begging you, please."
"The lady was begging for them to get off of her," said Ferguson to the Times. "I was scared." The child was "screaming for his life."
Headley was charged her with resisting arrest, acting in a manner injurious to a child, obstructing governmental administration and criminal trespass. Authorities turned over the toddler to a family member.
She was jailed on an unrelated warrant and may face prosecution related to that case.
"This is unacceptable, appalling and heart breaking," City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, a Democrat, said on Twitter. "I'd like to understand what transpired and how these officers or the NYPD justifies this. It's hard to watch this video."
The president of the union that represents cops said the "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," PBA President Patrick Lynch said in a statement. "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."
Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks said he is "deeply troubled" and wants 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," Banks said in a statement. "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."
With The Associated Press.