Five days after police arrested 23-year-old Jazmine Headley — and after an investigation into an “appalling” video that showed police pulling her child from her arms — authorities have announced plans to drop all related charges against her.
On Friday, Headley went to the Human Resources Administration office in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill, where New Yorkers can apply for food stamps and other forms of public assistance. She was there to get a voucher for city-funded day care so she could find someone to look after her 1-year-old son, Damone, while she went to work as a cleaner, her mother would tell reporters. The drab, gray building was packed, and lines were moving slowly.
Headley was arrested on multiple charges after she sat on the ground in the office and refused to stand when security guards and police commanded it.
“The security guard, I guess she came over and told her she couldn’t sit there,” Nyashia Ferguson, who shot and posted the two-and-half-minute video on Facebook, told WCBS. “So she’s like, ‘Where am I going to sit?’”
Told that she would just have to stand, Headley refused.
Eventually, the officers in the video are seen prying the boy from Headley’s grasp. “They’re hurting my son,” she screams again and again. Unmoved, the officers keep on tugging. As onlookers gather around and begin filming the commotion, one officer pulls out a stun gun. Those in the room can be heard loudly protesting the officers who had pinned the woman to the ground to handcuff her.
“It’s hard to watch this video,” New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D) wrote on Twitter in the initial aftermath, calling the violent arrest “unacceptable, appalling and heart breaking.”
Headley was arrested on charges of acting in a manner injurious to a child, obstructing governmental administration, criminal trespass and resisting arrest, all misdemeanor offenses.
“Continuing to pursue this case will not serve any purpose and I therefore moved today to dismiss it immediately in the interest of justice,” Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a statement. “Discretion is the better part of valor and we must be thoughtful and compassionate in evaluating the merit of our cases.”
And though all those charges were dismissed Tuesday, Headley remains in jail on Rikers Island for an “unrelated warrant” out of Mercer County in New Jersey, authorities said. A media spokesman with the Mercer County prosecutor’s office said that warrant was issued in July 2017 after Headley failed to appear in court for an arraignment on charges of third-degree credit card theft and fourth-degree trafficking in personal identifying information.
Brooklyn Defender Services will file a special application Tuesday asking the judge to release Headley on the out-of-state warrant, founder and executive director Lisa Schreibersdorf said in a statement. If the application is not granted, Schreibersdorf said, Headley will be transferred to New Jersey on Wednesday.
Representatives from Brooklyn Defender Services have frequently visited Headley and spoken with her by phone.
“She is staying strong,” Schreibersdorf said. “We are keeping her updated on the public attention her case has received and she is heartened by the outcry and support.”
At a rally for Headley’s release Tuesday afternoon outside New York city hall, New York Attorney General-elect Letitia James joined several city council members to condemn the officers' actions and call for a full investigation.
“Though the charges against Jazmine Headley have been dismissed, that does not change the fact that her arrest shouldn’t have happened in the first place,” James wrote in a statement on Twitter. “We still need to have a full-scale investigation into what happened, so that it never happens to another mother again.”
Two Human Resources Administration peace officers were placed on modified duty after the incident, Steven Banks, commissioner of the city Human Resources Administration, said in a statement Monday to ABC News. Banks was “deeply troubled” by what happened, he told ABC News, and said officers and staff will be better trained in the future to de-escalate situations before calling the New York Police Department.
Gonzalez, the Brooklyn district attorney, said in his statement that he was “horrified” by the “violence depicted in the video."