BOERUM HILL – Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced on Tuesday that charges against Jazmine Headley have been dropped. Headley is the 23-year-old mother whose one-year-old son was forcibly torn out of her arms by police officers at a social services office last Friday, December 7.
The public was outraged after video of the incident was released online. The footage shows Headley and her son on the floor of the Human Resources Administration (HRA) office at 275 Bergen Street surrounded by four officers. One of the officers violently pulls her young son out of her arms. Headley can be heard shouting, “They’re hurting my son!”
After separating the child from her, one officer reportedly waved a stun gun at onlookers as Headley continued to struggle with the other officers.
Headley sat on the floor of the HRA facility because there were no available seats. Police were called in after Headley got into an argument with a HRA security guard who asked her to leave, according to the New York Times. Headley went to the HRA office to try to get her son’s child-care benefits reinstated after the city stopped covering his day care fees, the Times reports.
Headley was taken into custody and charged with resisting arrest, acting in a manner injurious to a child, obstructing governmental administration, and trespassing. She had been held at Rikers Island for five days before being release Tuesday at 9pm. Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez dismissed the charges against her on Tuesday, December 11.
“Like everyone who watched the arrest of Jazmine Headley, I was horrified by the violence depicted in the video and immediately opened an investigation into this case,” Gonzalez said in a release. “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. 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, she was jailed on an unrelated warrant and may face additional collateral consequences.”
Headley still faces charges for credit card theft and trafficking in personal identifying information in Mercer County, New Jersey. Headley was arrested in July 2016 in a case involving counterfeit credit cards, according to the Times. A warrant was issued for her arrest after she failed to show up in court. She is scheduled to return to court in New Jersey today.
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Public Advocate Tish James hosted a rally on Tuesday demanding justice for Headley. “What happened to Jazmine Headley is unacceptable and appalling. I saw that video and I felt heartbroken for that mother and baby – and furious that it was happening in our city. It’s a short video, but it shows so much of what is wrong with our system,” Johnson said in a statement.
“It should never be a crime to be in crisis,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said following Gonzalez’s announcement to dismiss Headley’s case. “Charges should never have been filed against Jazmine Headley for the incident at the SNAP center in Boerum Hill, and I thank District Attorney Gonzalez for his leadership in dismissing this case.”
“Furthermore, justice in this matter will not fully be achieved until we enact lasting reforms within HRA and the NYPD that help ensure nothing like this ever happens again,” Borough President Adams added.