“It’s not just the fact that I was arrested. It was the harsh way that I was treated by people who are supposed to help me,” she told council members. “In my case, I was just sitting. A peaceful act.” Headley’s story went viral toward the end of last year after the shocking footage made its way to Facebook. In the video, Headley could be seen pleading and struggling to hold on to her son, even as officers surround her and try to drag the child away. The altercation all starting because Headley was sitting on the floor because seats in the main waiting area were full. Officials tried to claim that the young woman was blocking a fire zone (it was later determined that she was not blocking a fire zone) and demanded that she move. Headley refused, prompting Human Resources Administration officers to call the police which led to the breakdown captured on video. Headley was ultimately arrested and spent four nights at Riker’s Island before she was released and the charges against her were dropped. An NYPD Internal Affairs investigation maintained that cops did nothing wrong during the arrest. However, one of the peace officers who work for the Human Resources Administration has resigned and the city is working to fire another, the Times reports. The incident, as the Times notes, prompted the Council to introduce more than a dozen bills that will help improve the treatment of those seeking and receiving public assistance, including a bill that would require the Department of Social Services to issue quarterly use-of-force reports, and other bills that would help make spaces child-friendly, streamline appointments, and train employees in de-escalation.
The way Jazmine Headley was treated in a public benefits office is completely unacceptable.
Today I apologized to her, on behalf of New York City.
What happened to her must never happen again, so the @NYCCouncil is considering 13 bills about client experience in HRA centers. pic.twitter.com/FI6dgRCWNi— NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson (@NYCSpeakerCoJo) February 4, 2019
“I am similarly deeply, deeply grateful for your bravery, for you wanting to tell your story, for you wanting to ensure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else,” Council speaker Corey Johnson told Headley during the hearing.