The New York Police Department is investigating a video shared on Facebook that shows officers yanking a 1-year-old baby from his mother’s arms at a government assistance center.
The roughly 2 1/2-minute video, captured Friday by Nyashia Ferguson on her cellphone at a city Human Resources Administration office in Brooklyn, is “troubling,” the NYPD said in a statement on Sunday. It added that investigators were looking into the incident with the HRA.
The video, which caused a public outcry after it began circulating on social media, shows three NYPD officers restraining a woman, identified as 23-year-old Jazmine Headley, as they wrestle away her wailing 1-year-old son, Damone, during a struggle at the HRA office in the Boerum Hill neighborhood.
“I was just so disgusted,” Ferguson told CBS New York. “I couldn’t believe they were doing that to that child. I just couldn’t believe it. It was crazy.”
The chaos unfolded after Headley sat on the floor of the office’s crowded waiting room with her son as she awaited a child-care voucher, according to Ferguson.
A security guard told Headley that she had to get up, according to the police statement, but she refused, and office staff called 911 “due to her disorderly conduct towards others, and for obstructing the hallway.”
According to Scott Henchinger, director of policy at Brooklyn Defender Services, the public defender organization representing Headley, the mother had been waiting at the office for four hours without a place to sit. “That’s why she sat on [the] ground,” Henchinger tweeted Monday.
Arriving police officers ordered Headley to leave. When she refused, police said officers arrested her and Headley resisted.
“They’re hurting my son! They’re hurting my son!” Headley is heard yelling in the video, cradling her son on the floor as police attempt to restrain her. “I’m begging you, please.”
Onlookers can be heard crying out in horror as the officers pull Headley’s son away. One officer wielded a yellow stun gun, prompting an onlooker to yell out, “She has a fucking baby in her hands!”
Police charged Headley with several misdemeanor offenses, including resisting arrest, acting in a manner injurious to a child, and criminal trespass.
“This is unacceptable, appalling and heart breaking,” tweeted New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “I’d like to understand what transpired and how these officers or the NYPD justifies this. It’s hard to watch this video.”
A family member took custody of Headley’s son following her arrest, according to police. As of Monday night, Headley was being held without bail on Rikers Island, Henchinger said.
The HRA security officers who called the police on Headley have reportedly been placed on leave.
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said in a Monday statement that an internal investigation into the video was ongoing.
“I’ll tell you the video is very disturbing to me,” O’Neill said, adding that police “have a very tough job.”
“We were called to a chaotic situation & we’re looking at all available video to determine why certain decisions were made,” he said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Twitter that the “NYPD & HRA will get to the bottom of what happened.”
A representative of NYPD’s 84th Precinct did not return HuffPost’s request for additional comment.
This article has been updated throughout with additional details about Headley’s arrest.