An NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau review concluded that police officers did nothing wrong when they dragged a one-year-old boy away from his mother at a Brooklyn public service assistance center earlier this month.
According to Politico, the Internal Affairs Bureau found no wrongdoing on the part of the officers involved in the brutal arrest of Jazmine Headley, which went viral earlier this month, and the officers are not expected to face any discipline or change of status.
“The NYPD has conducted a strenuous review of what happened because the public deserves answers, and we must take every opportunity to continuously strengthen how the NYPD serves the people of New York City,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill said in a statement. “This review shows that prior to the incident depicted on public video, NYPD officers are working with the client to de-escalate the situation.”
The statement echoed what the commissioner said last week after he noted that he reviewed the body cameras worn by the officers and claimed they were trying to diffuse the situation.
Headley’s case grabbed national attention after a viral video was posted to social media showing officers surrounding the 23-year-old mom as they yanked her infant son, Damone out of her hands.
In the video, furious bystanders could be heard protesting, as they verbally came to Headley’s defense.
Headley desperately tried to cling to her son during the altercation, screaming “They’re hurting my son!”
At one point an officer could be seen drawing her Taser and pointing it at the crowd forcing them to back up.
The video drew attention from officials and the public alike, all of whom denounced Headley’s treatment, which stemmed from her sitting on the floor as she waited for a chance to sort out her childcare benefits so she could return to work without having to worry about her son.
In an interview with The New York Times, Headley noted that her experience is not singular when it comes to the hostility that those who are seeking help often meet at city benefits offices.
“It’s the story of many other people, it’s not just my story,” she noted. “My story is the only one that made it to the surface.”
“They never asked me my name,” Headley added. “They never said, ‘Hello, who are you?’ They never asked me.”
Headley told the Times that she tried to leave the center with her son shortly after police arrived after she got into an argument with a security guard who told her she was blocking the fire zone and needed to move.
Headley acknowledged that she initially refused, pointing out that there were trash and recycling bins against the wall next to her son’s stroller.
“I just remember being talked to very viciously,” she said. “It was more or less: ‘You’re going to do what I say, and that’s it.’”
But again, when officers came she attempted to leave the facility, but a male police officer said it was too late, prompting her to go into “defense mode.”
“In my head, I told myself they’re not going to let me leave,” she acknowledged. “I was so afraid. I was combative with my thoughts.”
“I should’ve left, and I didn’t because if I would’ve left, my son would not have the things that he needs,” she added.
What happened next remains a blur to her, according to the report. Police claim that a security guard grabbed Headley by the arm, and they both fell to the ground. What happened next remains captured in the online video that shows Headley wailing and trying to hold on to her son as officers yank at the boy’s shirt and arms.
As Headley is pinned to the floor by officers she could be heard saying, “I’m begging you please.”
Ultimately she was lead away in handcuffs, separated from her son.
She was later released from jail after Brooklyn’s District Attorney declined to prosecute her on various charges, noting that “Continuing to pursue this case will not serve any purpose and I, therefore, moved today to dismiss it immediately in the interest of justice.”
Despite the officers being cleared of wrongdoing in the case, the city social services commissioner has suspended the two security guards that were involved in the initial encounter, and has started the process to fire them, the Times notes.
“I could only see my children in that situation, and it’s just heartbreaking,” Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks said.
The agency is in the process of reviewing how is office deals with people who are accompanied by children and has promised to retrain staff, security guards and peace officers.