Wed, Dec 12, 2018 - Page 7 News List

NY police rip toddler from mother’s arms at benefits office, sparking fury


Outrage built on Monday over a video showing police officers violently yanking a toddler from his mother’s arms at a Brooklyn, New York, public benefits office, with officials criticizing police for not de-escalating the situation and clients of the facility complaining it is indicative of how the city treats social-services recipients.

The video, taken by a bystander, captured the chaotic scene that unfolded on Friday as officers tried to remove the mother, Jazmine Headley, from the crowded office, where she had sat on the floor for two hours because of a lack of chairs.

Police were called when she refused a security guard’s order to leave.

The woman ended up lying face-up on the floor during a tug-of-war over her 18-month-old son.

“The baby was screaming for his life,” Nyashia Ferguson, who posted the video on Facebook under the name Monae Sinclair, told the New York Times. “The lady was begging for them to get off of her. I was scared.”

Other clients shouted at the officers.

At one point, an officer can be seen pulling her stun gun and pointing it at people in the angry crowd.

Headley was charged with obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest, endangering the welfare of a child and trespassing.

As of Monday afternoon, she was still in jail because there was a warrant for her arrest in New Jersey, prosecutors said.

Bail was not requested and prosecutors were reaching out to New Jersey officials to “expedite her release.”

A family member was taking care of the child, authorities said.

The Brooklyn public defender’s office called on prosecutors to dismiss the charges.

At a news conference outside the benefits office on Monday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a Democrat and former police officer, likened the officers involved in Headley’s arrest to “Border Patrol police snatching away” a baby.

He called the arrest “a blemish on our entire city.”

“The mother didn’t endanger the welfare of the child. The actions of the department endangered the welfare of the child,” Adams said. “If it’s wrong in Mexico, then it’s wrong in New York City.”

New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, a Democrat, called the incident “appalling and heartbreaking,” and criticized both the police and the city agency where Headley had gone for help.

“It is unacceptable that Human Resources Administration has such little capacity to handle its core functions that folks seeking their assistance must sit on the floor with their children while waiting for an appointment,” he said in a statement.

“This was a disturbing incident. Like anyone who’s watched this video, I have a lot of questions about how this was handled,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted.

Steve Bank, commissioner of the Department of Social Services, said he was “deeply troubled” by the incident and a “thorough” review had been launched.

He said two administration employees, whom he described as peace officers, were being placed on modified duty pending the investigation.

The New York Police Department was also reviewing the situation.

New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill said the video was “very disturbing.”

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