A Brooklyn mother whom police violently arrested last week after ripping her baby from her arms inside a Boerum Hill social-services office walked out of jail free on Tuesday, after Kings County’s top prosecutor dismissed all charges against her.
The attorney representing Bedford-Stuyvesant resident Jazmine Headley, 23, cheered District Attorney Eric Gonzalez’s decision, which came after activists from around the city held several protests demanding the mom’s release.
“We are very happy to have a critical step towards justice,” said Lisa Schreibersdorf, who heads do-good group Brooklyn Defender Services, which offers no-cost legal aid to the borough’s most vulnerable.
Video footage that Facebook user Monae Sinclair took and posted of the Dec. 7 incident — which has since gone viral, garnering nearly 14,000 shares by Wednesday afternoon — showed a group of cops attempting to grab Headley’s 1-year-old son from her arms, after private security officials and police reportedly demanded she leave the Fort Greene Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s Bergen Street office because she was sitting on the floor due to a lack of open chairs.
The more than two-minute video captured Headley shouting, “They’re hurting my son, they’re hurting my son,” no less than eight times, but her pleas did not stop authorities from yanking the boy away and cuffing her — horrific and unnecessary actions that only traumatized the mom and her child, according to Gonzalez.
“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. It is clear to me that this incident should have been handled differently,” he said. “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.”
Law-enforcement officials initially slapped Headley with charges including resisting arrest, endangering a child, obstructing governmental administration, and trespassing, according to a New York Times report, and shipped her off to the notoriously brutal jails on Rikers Island, many of which the mayor is trying to close.
But days later — following a Monday protest that Borough President Adams led outside the social-services office, and other rallies — Gonzalez dropped the charges after Headley spent four nights behind bars without her son.
Still, some activists soldiered on with a Tuesday protest outside City Hall planned before the district attorney dropped Headley’s charges, sending a loud and clear message that police and all officials must treat New York City dwellers of all backgrounds with respect — especially vulnerable residents like Headley, according to a Fort Greene pol, who last year gave birth to her own baby boy, and choked back tears while discussing the ordeal.
“To be a black woman in New York City, in America — we are the most vulnerable, we are most antagonized, we are the most neglected, we are the most disrespected in this entire country. I have a 16-month-old son and I can’t imagine because I would have fought just as hard she did to hold onto my son if that had happened to me,” said Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, who joined more than a dozen other pols and activists at the protest, including Public Advocate Letitia “Tish” James and Boerum Hill Councilman Stephen Levin.