A startling video show several officers with the New York City Police Department attempting to wrest a 1-year-old child away from his mother’s arms during an incident at a local food-assistance office in Brooklyn.
According to the New York Post, Jazmine Headley was sitting on the floor with her infant son at the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program center in the Boerum Hill neighborhood because the location had run out of chairs. Soon after that, Headley was confronted by a security guard over her seating decision, according to a witness.
“There wasn’t any more chairs for this lady to sit down so she sat in the corner on the floor,” wrote Monae Sinclair in a caption to the footage of the incident she posted on Facebook. “The security guard came over said what ever she said to her [and Headley] made the security guard feel dumb so she called the cops on her.”
As the footage begins, Headley can be heard repeatedly screaming, “They’re hurting my son! They’re hurting my son! They’re hurting my son!”
Three NYPD officers, plus one sergeant and what appears to be a security guard surrounded the woman, who wrapped her arms around her child and assumed a fetal position to protect him. Eventually one of the officers appeared to grab hold of Headley’s child and one of her arms, beginning what was essentially as a tug-of-war with the 23-year-old mother as he tried to pry the child away.
“Oh my God, oh my God, look what they’re doing to us, look what they’re doing to her,” a woman in the background screamed as the officer yanked on the woman and her baby.
The scene quickly became more chaotic as the crowd begins to move in closer. Another security guard showd up to try and block more people from coming forward, as shouting from the crowd continued.
“There’s a fucking baby in her hands!” another person screamed.
Eventually one of the NYPD officers appeared to pull out a yellow stun gun–waving it at the assembled onlookers in an apparent attempt to repel them.
Headley’s face can then be seen again as she briefly cries out, “I’m begging you please.”
The child was eventually wrestled away from Headley, who was led away in handcuffs. She was later charged with resisting arrest, acting in a manner injurious to a child, obstructing governmental administration and criminal trespassing.
Alex S. Vitale, Professor of Sociology and Coordinator of the Policing and Social Justice Project at Brooklyn College, excoriated the NYPD for their handling of the situation.
“This was the best plan they could come up with?” Vitale asked on Twitter. “No threat to anyone, no emergency, just brutal disregard for the well-being of mother and child.”
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson also criticized the department.
“This is unacceptable, appalling and heart breaking,” he wrote. “I’d like to understand what transpired and how these officers or the NYPD justifies this.”
According to the Post, the NYPD called the incident “troubling” and are currently investigating.
[image via screengrab/Facebook]