Outrage over arrest of mum holding baby


The video shows the mother on the floor as officers try to take her childImage copyright
Nyashia Ferguson/Facebook

Image caption

The video shows the mother on the floor as officers try to take her child

New York City police are investigating an alleged incident of police brutality involving officers grabbing a baby from a mother during an arrest in Brooklyn.

The video, shared on Facebook on Friday, shows police dragging 23-year-old Jazmine Headley across a floor as she yells: “They’re hurting my son.”

She was arrested for refusing to leave a social services centre, police say.

City public officials have condemned the actions and demanded answers from the police department.

The New York Police Department (NYPD) confirmed that the department and Human Resources Administration (HRA) police have opened a review into the incident, in a statement emailed to the BBC.

NYPD said the footage was “troubling” and the review will “include examination of all available video of the incident”.

The Facebook video has since received over 200,000 views and sparked public outrage over yet another case of alleged police brutality.

The incident began on Friday at an HRA office in Brooklyn, where residents can apply for public assistance services like food stamps.

According to Nyashia Ferguson, who shot the video, Ms Headley sat on the floor with her one-year-old son while waiting, as there were no more chairs left. Lines were hours long, Ms Ferguson told CBS News.

An HRA security guard then told Ms Headley she had to stand, Ms Ferguson said. The two got into a row, and when Ms Headley refused to leave, the guard called the cops.

The NYPD officers on scene also asked Ms Headley to leave “numerous times”, the police statement said.

When she refused again, HRA peace officers dragged her to the floor as police attempted to arrest her.

In the recording, officers can be seen grabbing at Ms Headley’s baby, trying to pull him out of her arms as they restrain her. She shouts repeatedly: “They’re hurting my son.”

An officer then points what appears to be a taser at Ms Headley as she says, “I’m begging you.”

Eventually, the 23-year-old mother is escorted out by by several officers. No officers were injured in the incident.

New York City public officials have criticised the officers’ actions and called for answers from the department.

NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson said the behaviour was “unacceptable, appalling and heartbreaking” on Twitter.

New York Attorney General-elect Letitia James said: “No mother should have to experience the trauma and humiliation we all witnessed in the video”.

“Being poor is not a crime,” Ms James tweeted. “There must be a full investigation and the results made public.”

Police say Ms Headley has been charged with several misdemeanours: resisting arrest, obstructing government administration, criminal trespass, and acting in a manner injurious to a child.

She is in police custody, and officials say her child is in the care of a family member. Ms Headley declined medical treatment for herself and her son following the arrest.

Her court date has been set for 13 December, according to booking records.

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