Jazmine Headley, Mom Whose Infant Son Was Snatched From Her During Violent Arrest, To Receive $625,000 From NYC
"This never should’ve happened,” Jazmine Headley's mother said. “The images continue in your head.”
Update (December 18, 2019): A Black mother in New York City settled a lawsuit with the city on Friday after police violently ripped her baby away last year at a social services office in Brooklyn.
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According to CBS News, New York City will pay $625,000 to Jazmine Headley. The lawsuit also stated that the mother’s name and image would be permanently linked with that "traumatic and violent experience."
Headley was reportedly confronted by police after sitting on the floor of the crowded Human Resources Administration office for four hours, waiting to renew daycare vouchers.
"The security guard, I guess she came over and told her she couldn't sit there,” a witness told CBS News. “So she's like, 'Where am I going to sit?' She was like, 'I guess you're going to just have to stand.' She said, 'Well, I'm not going to stand with my son. She was like, 'What is the crime? What did I do wrong?' And then it just escalated."
Cellphone video shows the 24-year old woman lying face-up on the floor and struggling to hold on to her 18-month-old baby as police try to arrest her. “They’re hurting my son,” the mother yells repeatedly, but police continue to tug at the child. The footage also shows one officer pulling a stun gun and pointing it at the frantic crowd.
Headley said her child suffered physical, mental and other injuries because of the incident.
According to the New York Daily News, the mom was charged with resisting arrest and endangering the welfare of a child. She was then sent to New York's Rikers Island jail, where she spent four days.
"Ms. Headley came to the city seeking help, and we failed to treat her with the dignity and respect she deserved," the city said in a statement after settling the lawsuit. “While this injustice should have never happened, it forced a reckoning with how we treat our most vulnerable and prompted us to make reforms at HRA centers across the city."
Headley's lawyers, Katherine Rosenfeld and Emma Freeman also gave a statement after the settlement, according to USA TODAY.
"Through her intelligence, bravery, and grace, Jazmine Headley turned the worst ordeal of her life — and of any parent's — into an opportunity for change for the entire city," the lawyers said.The 24-year-old gave a speech to New York city council members in February.
I just wanted to thank Jazmine Headley for coming to testify at the @NYCCouncil today. I know it cannot have been easy to relive that trauma.— NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson (@NYCSpeakerCoJo) February 5, 2019
Thank you Jazmine, on behalf of New York City. pic.twitter.com/tXQv0In28P
"I am a new mom. I am a single parent. I needed childcare so I can work and build on our future. I want to go back to school eventually," she said. “So after taking off work, waiting many hours with my public assistance case, I was exhausted. I sat on the floor with my son in the stroller, I was just going to wait it out. A simple desire to rest ended with me getting arrested."
Speaker Corey Johnson issued an apology after the speech, along with Laurie Cumbo, a Black city council majority leader.
"I know as a single Black woman, mother, in New York City you have to carry yourself with the 'don't even think about messing with me, I'm the toughest woman in the world' and sometimes all that strength gets misunderstood," Cumbo said.
The charges against Headley were dropped shortly after the incident.
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez issued a statement after dropping the charges, saying pursuing a case against Headley would “not serve any purpose, and I therefore moved today to dismiss it immediately in the interest of justice.”
Original (December 12, 2018): Jazmine Headley, the New York City mother violently arrested after her 1-year-old son was snatched from her arms, has been freed from jail.
CBS News reports the 23-year-old mom was released from Riker's Island Tuesday.
That’s the face of a 1 year old who is happy to see his mother after he was ripped from her arms during an arrest. Jazmine Headley and Damone had an emotional and very tearful reunion last night. More on @NY1 pic.twitter.com/FQ45qm1dAq— Ruschell Boone (@RuschellBoone) December 12, 2018
"I'm just so grateful to everyone, and I'm just happy to be free, and I just need to see my boy," Headley said.
"This never should’ve happened,” Headley's mother, Jacquelin Jenkins, told CBS New York. “Devastating, just devastating. The images continue in your head.”
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez dropped all charges against Headley, arguing that pursuing charges would "not serve any purpose." Gonzalez added he was "horrified by the violence depicted in the video."
The video in question showed Headley's arrest at a New York City public assistance office, as Blavity reported. According to NJ.com, the mother was at the office to renew daycare vouchers for her son.
Nyashia Ferguson witnessed the violent arrest, which saw Headley's son forcefully taken from her by authorities, and told CBS News the police encounter began with a misunderstanding. Headley, following a prolonged wait, was looking for a place to rest with her son when she got into a dispute with a Human Resources Administration (HRA) employee, according to Ferguson.
"The security guard, I guess she came over and told [Headley] she couldn't sit there," Ferguson said. "So she's like, 'Where am I going to sit?' [The guard] was like, 'I guess you're going to just have to stand.' She said, 'Well, I'm not going to stand with my son.' [Headley] was like, 'What is the crime? What did I do wrong?' And then it just escalated."
Despite Booklyn's DA dropping all charges, Headley still faced an unrelated credit card fraud case and was ordered to appear in court on Wednesday to face those charges.
The mother responded to that summons and was ordered by a judge to pay $1,000 and complete community service. The officers involved in the incident at the public assistance office have been placed on modified duty.