A video showing NYPD officers violently removing a woman’s one-year-old child from her arms has sparked national outrage.
Nyesha Ferguos posted the video to her Facebook page on Friday. It shows 23-year-old Jazmine Headly clinging to her son, Damone, and telling officers they are hurting him as they attempt to yank the child away from her. One officer waves a yellow stun gun at the outraged crowd, which includes children, several of whom are filming on their cell phones.
Headley had reportedly been waiting four hours at a Brooklyn Human Resources Administration (HRA) office to receive daycare reimbursement. As the office was crowded and there were no seats available, she sat with Damone on the floor. When she refused to stand, security called the police. The situation quickly escalated. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams told CBS2 News that “a Taser was used” and that HRA peace officers tried to remove Headley because of what they described as "disorderly conduct towards others and for obstructing the hallway."
Witnesses disputed this account, saying that there was not enough seating and that security was unnecessarily antagonistic. Ferguson, who posted the video, told the New York Times about her experiences at HRA offices, saying “They’re always rude. They think that people that are poor don’t have nothing, so you can treat them any kind of way.”
In this situation, she said, “the police made it way worse.”
Headley was charged with resisting arrest, acting in a manner injurious to a child, obstructing governmental administration and trespassing and taken to Rikers Island. On Tuesday morning Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez dropped those charges and released a statement saying, in part, “It is clear to me that this incident should have been handled differently. 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,”
Headley, however remains imprisoned on Rikers Island on an unrelated warrant. Damone is in the care of a relative. A GoFundMe page has been set up by the Brooklyn Defenders Service to help get her released and to offset the costs of childcare.