New York City police officers are under fire after video footage of a baby being ripped from his mother’s arms became headline news.
Jazmine Headley, 23, took the day off work to find out why daycare vouchers for her one-year-old were suddenly cut off. The social services office was slow and crowded; no chairs were available. After waiting hours with her baby, Ms. Headley decided to sit on the floor. However, the Human Resources Administration (HRA) guards at the facility approached Headley and ordered her to stand because she was blocking the hallway. Video footage and witness statements demonstrate that Headley was not blocking any doors or passageways. She refused to stand, and police were called.
The police arrived and almost immediately escalated the situation. Cellphone video confirms that three NYPD officers, including a sergeant, engaged in an aggressive tug-of-war with the mother in an attempt to take the child from Headley’s arms. One officer pulls on the child and drags the mother across the floor while another pulls out a stun gun.
Eventually, police were able to pry the baby away from the mother, who was then arrested on charges of resisting arrest, committing an act in a manner injurious to a child, criminal trespass, and obstruction of governmental administration. She is also being held on an unrelated warrant in New Jersey, according to police. Additionally, a judge issued a restraining order against her, barring Headley from getting near her son.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has called for the charges to be dropped against Headley. He plans to investigate the incident and says: “The mother didn’t endanger the welfare of a child. The actions of the [police] department endangered the welfare of the child."
"Something's terribly wrong when the most well-trained police department can't resolve a dispute with a mother and child without looking like the President's southern border strategy,” said Adams in a statement posted on Facebook, referring to the Trump administration's practice of separating children from parents caught illegally crossing the border. “We must do better."
It is hard to disagree. If anyone should be arrested or charged in this incident, it should be the HRA guards and the NYPD officers who escalated the situation and literally assaulted and battered mother and child. Their conduct is appalling. What could Headley have possibly done (before the video begins) to warrant such a violent abuse of force?
As a general rule, police are there to help; it is their job to protect and serve. So, what should a cop do in this or a similar situation? First, assess the situation. Logic tells us that a police officer would need an adequate amount of time upon arrival to evaluate the scene and the circumstances. Next, the officer should attempt to de-escalate the situation. If the suspect is not compliant or begins to resist, the officer may use force. How much force depends on the circumstances. While Ms. Headley ‘resisted’, her resistance appears to be reasonable; she was a mother seeking to protect her child. She did not have a weapon and was not threatening violence. She was simply waiting for her turn to see an HRA representative.
I await the result of an inevitable investigation, but the video suggests officer misconduct. We must stand up against the abuse of power, in all forms. These days, I use my Zachary Blake Betrayal series novels to call attention to these abuses and champion the cause of justice. Each novel views how the legal system handles the abuse of power in modern society and the way the justice system acts as a check and balance against other branches of government.
Watch for Betrayal in Black in 2019. This 4th novel of the series pays tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement explores police brutality and racism in modern America, and examines the real effects of such events. Subscribe to markmbello.com for future updates.