Black Woman Whose Baby Was Ripped From Her Arms Sues NYC

A New York woman who went viral in December after a video showed NYPD officers ripping her son from her arms has filed a lawsuit against the city (Shutterstock).

A mother from New York who went viral after a video showed New York City police (NYPD) ripping her son from her arms back in December is now filing a lawsuit against the city.

A viral video posted to Facebook in December, showed New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) peace officers and NYPD officers in a violent struggle with Jazmine Headley, 24, who was holding her toddler son in her arms. Headley, who was 23 at the time of the incident, filed a federal lawsuit against the city on August 7, WNBC reported.

“All their pain, humiliation, and trauma could so easily have been avoided if any City employee had paused, found Ms. Headley a place to sit, and checked when her number would be called,” the lawsuit viewed by The North Star reads.

“Instead of assisting Ms. Headley after her three-hour wait with a toddler, or taking any actions to de-escalate the situation, the responding officers attacked her, ripped her son from her arms, threw her in jail with a restraining order against her own child, and, in the process, upended her life.”

The lawsuit states that Headley entered the Dekalb Job Center on December 7 to find out why HRA had cut the childcare benefits for her son. Headley waited three hours in the office with her son, D.B. and sat on the floor because the office was crowded. HRA officers asked her to leave because she was sitting on the floor, and, when she informed officers she was waiting for her number to be called, the peace officers left and then returned with two NYPD officers.

Headley then asked to speak to a supervisor. The officers refused and one of them began to grab the young mother’s belongings and push her son’s stroller to the side, according to the lawsuit. One officer then threatened to place her child in the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS).

“If you don’t go, you’re going to arrested. And if you get arrested, your kid goes to ACS,” the peace officer reportedly told her.

As she got up to leave, the officers attacked her and yanked her child from her arms. Headley was arrested and spent several nights at Rikers Island away from her son. The charges against Headley were dropped on December 11, according to the lawsuit. In February, two of the peace officers who called the NYPD on Headley were relieved of their duties, NY1 previously reported.

Following the incident, city officials came forward and spoke in defense of Headley. In a press conference in December, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he watched the video and said, “There was no call for that type of response.”

“It’s unbelievable to me that people who have the title of peace officer would do this to a woman and her baby. She posed no threat whatsoever,” he previously said, according to the New York Post.

HRA Commissioner Steven Banks also apologized to Headley following the incident, calling it “unacceptable” and a “horrible incident.”

“I would certainly say to her as a parent I apologize that you went through this horrible situation in one of our offices. I think the situation for this young mother could have been deescalated. There could have been interventions that didn’t allow it to get to this point,” Banks said in a previous statement, according to WCBS-TV.

Headley is looking for unspecified damages in the lawsuit that includes charges of common law assault and malicious prosecution. The complaint states Headley “continues to suffer physical, mental, emotional, and psychological injuries” from the incident and that her son “displayed changed behaviors after the events, including a diminished appetite, separation anxiety, and difficulty sleeping, and he became more withdrawn.” Headley also told reporters she wants the lawsuit to help others who have experienced abuse by HRA officers.

“My son and I were unreasonably assaulted by untrained and undertrained HRA security officers and police officers,” Headley said on August 8, according to the New York Daily News. “I am taking action so this experience does not fester and infect our lives, work, relationships, and health. I look forward to re-directing the hurt and anger we feel into more positive outlets for change.”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.