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Watch: NYPD officers pry 1-year-old child from mother's arms, sparking outrage and criticism

Watch: NYPD officers pry 1-year-old child from mother's arms, sparking outrage and criticism
Posted at 12:12 PM, Dec 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-10 12:12:28-05

With a crowd of onlookers gathered around, New York Police officers encircle a woman and her child on the ground.

One officer reaches down and begins to pull. The officer yanks harder, and harder, and the woman's cries become louder.

"You're hurting my son! You're hurting my son!" she yells.

A tug of war ensues, and as noise from the horrified crowd builds, an officer brandishes a yellow stun gun and begins to point it around the room, a government welfare office in Brooklyn.

The stunning and hectic scene, captured on video and posted to Facebook, ends with the woman in handcuffs escorted from the scene — and her 1-year-old son elsewhere. A family member took custody of the child following the arrest, the NYPD said.

The forceful arrest of the unarmed mother at a social services office has caused a significant backlash, particularly from those who saw it as an unnecessarily violent escalation and a symbol of how the poor are treated in America.

"Being poor is not a crime. The actions of the NYPD in this video are appalling and contemptible," said Letitia James, the Public Advocate for New York City.

Facing criticism, the NYPD and the New York City Human Resources Administration are now reviewing that December 7 arrest.

"Video images of the incident in the 84th precinct are troubling," the NYPD said in a statement, adding that the review will "include examination of all available video of the incident."

Corey Johnson, the speaker of the New York City Council, said it was "unacceptable, appalling and heart breaking."

"I'd like to understand what transpired and how these officers or the NYPD justifies this. It's hard to watch this video," he said on Twitter.

On Facebook, James called for a full investigationinto the officers' conduct and said the results should be made public. She also called for the officers involved, including their assigned supervisor, to be assigned to desk duty until an investigation is complete.

"No mother should have to experience the trauma and humiliation we all witnessed in this video," she said.

What happened before the video

The mother, Jazmine Headley, 23, faces four charges in the incident, including resisting arrest, acting in a manner injurious to a child, obstructing governmental administration and criminal trespass, the NYPD said.

The incident began on Friday just before 1 p.m. when police responded to a harassment complaint at the the Fort Greene Food Stamp Center in Brooklyn.

Police were called after office staff and HRA security unsuccessfully tried to remove Headley from the facility "due to her disorderly conduct towards others, and for obstructing the hallway," according to police.

Facebook user Monae Sinclair, who posted the video, said that there were no chairs available so Headley sat in the corner on the floor. A security guard came over and exchanged words with her, and the police later arrived.

Headley was told by police numerous times to leave the location and refused, the NYPD said. HRA security then brought the woman to the floor and NYPD officers attempted to place her under arrest, the NYPD said.

"She refused to comply with officers' orders, and was then taken into custody," police said in a statement.

The video illustrates in graphic clarity the show of force implicit in that police statement. Headley refused medical treatment for both herself and her son, police said. There were no officer injuries in the incident.

Headley is represented by a public defender and is expected to make a court appearance on December 13. Her attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a statement, the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office said it's interviewing witnesses and reviewing video as part of an independent investigation. The DA's office also said it did not request any bail for Headley and that she is still being held in jail in connection with a warrant from New Jersey.

"We are reaching out to authorities in that state to expedite her release," the statement said.

The Mercer County Sheriff's office confirmed to CNN that Headley has an outstanding arrest warrant from NJ Superior Court from July 2017 for failure to appear in relation to credit card fraud.