After viral video of NYPD snatching baby from her arms as she waited for a child care voucher, Jazmine Headley has charges dropped
According to Vox, an arrest stemming from a December 7th visit to a Brooklyn Human Resources Center has created a firestorm after a video showing the NYPD forcefully taking Jazmine Headley’s one-year-old son Damone from her while she was trying to obtain a voucher for child care went viral. Headley had spent several hours in the facility awaiting a hearing before sitting on the floor with her one-year-old when she was instructed by security officers at the HRC to either stand up or leave. Headley refused, and the security guards called the police, who surrounded Headley and pulled the child from her arms in order to forcefully arrest her.
Onlookers at the scene recorded the arrest and told the officers to stop, while Headley yelled, “They’re hurting my son! They’re hurting my son!” An officer also pulled out a stun gun and waved it in the direction of the crowd.
Nyashia Ferguson, one person who recorded the arrest, told CBS New York, “I was just so disgusted, I couldn’t believe they were doing that to that child. I just couldn’t believe it. It was crazy.” Alex Vitale, a sociology professor and coordinator for Brooklyn College’s Policing and Social Justice Project, told Vox, “We were told after the death of Eric Garner that NYPD would receive ‘deescalation training,’ it obviously didn’t work.”
Headley was charged with resisting arrest, acting in a manner injurious to a child, obstructing governmental administration, and trespassing. She was held from Friday afternoon until Tuesday at Rikers Island without bail, which the NYPD blamed on an alleged warrant for an unrelated charge of credit card fraud.
After the video made the rounds on social media, the Brooklyn DA Eric Gonalez announced that all the charges against Headley would be dropped in a press release stating, “The consequences 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… Continuing to pursue this case will not serve any purpose.” The arrest also gained the attention of the New York Attorney General-elect Letitia James, who released a statement on Sunday saying, “Being poor is not a crime. The actions of the NYPD in this video are appalling and contemptible, no mother should have to experience the trauma and humiliation we all witnessed in this video.”
The NYPD has called the video “troubling,” and said that it would perform an ”examination of all available video of the incident.” Monday, NY Senator Kristin Gillibrand called for “a full investigation” and said the video was “outrageous and horrific,” while NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio tweeted, “I have a lot of questions about how this was handled, NYPD & HRA will get to the bottom of what happened.”
This was a disturbing incident. 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. https://t.co/NjEWXi1ii6
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) December 10, 2018
In 2015, DeBlasio touted a retraining program supposedly aimed at changing the policing culture in New York in the wake of the Eric Garner chokehold trials. At the time, the mayor told reporters, “I think you’re going to see a very different reality after this training has been achieved. This will protect our officers, it will protect live citizens. I have no doubt some tragedy will be avoided because of this training.”
However, policing experts had gone on record as saying that the proposed three day courses on things like cultural sensitivity and use of force would not be nearly enough to fundamentally change the policing culture in New York City. Some officers had already negatively reviewed the training early in 2015, and later that year a damning report from the New York Department of Investigation would unearth just how terrible a job the city’s policing actually was doing. “In the Police Academy’s nearly 500 hours of coursework, OIG-NYPD identified only one nine hour course (entitled ‘Use of Force’) that directly pertains to an officer’s use of force,” the city commissioner noted in the report. “Just one 4.5-hour course (entitled ‘Policing Professionally’) addresses de-escalation tactics — less than one percent of the total curriculum.”
There have been at least two protests in the city which have criticized the treatment of Headley by the NYPD, according to Buzzfeed.