BROOKLYN — Charges against a mother must be dropped after video captured officers pulling a 1-year-old baby from her arms at a Brooklyn food assistance center, according to borough President Eric Adams, who on Monday compared the situation to families being separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The department endangered the child, not the mother,” Adams said of the incident at a news conference.
Video shared online Friday showed officers forcibly removing a child from Jazmine Headley, who sat on the floor of the center at 275 Bergen St. because there weren't any seats left, according to Monae Sinclair, the person who shared the footage online.
The woman is not a criminal, but rather a mother in crisis, according to Adams.
“She had to take a day off of work because her benefits were shut off unexpectedly. Had to take her 1-year-old because of lack of child care,” Adams said.
Officers were called on Headley after she allegedly refused to leave, despite requests from Human Resources Administration peace officers, police said.
Headley "was then informed by police numerous times to leave the location, and she refused."
Officers forcibly removed Headley’s baby, and handcuffed her, video showed.
The footage is "hard to watch,” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said after it was posted online.
"This is unacceptable, appalling and heart breaking. I’d like to understand what transpired and how these officers or the NYPD justifies this," he tweeted.
The officers’ actions are “appalling and contemptible,” Public Advocate Letitia James stated in a Facebook post about the incident.
“Being poor is not a crime. … No mother should have to experience the trauma and humiliation we all witnessed in this video,” James wrote.
At Monday’s news conference, Adams compared the incident to President Donald Trump's controversial policy of removing children from their families at the border.
“If it’s wrong in Mexico, then it’s wrong in New York City,” Adams said. "Clearly our Police Department, the most well-trained Police Department in the country, should be able to deescalate a situation with a baby and the mother without duplicating Trump security removal of children."
Headley has been charged with resisting arrest, acting in a manner injurious to a child, obstructing governmental administration and criminal trespass.
She is still being held at Rikers Island in connection with a warrant from New Jersey.
Headley has an outstanding arrest warrant from New Jersey Superior Court from July 2017 for failure to appear in relation to credit card fraud, the Mercer County Sheriff's office tells CNN.
Adams has called for charges connected to Friday’s incident be dropped against Headley, and a complete and thorough investigation into police response be conducted.
Eric Adams speaks about the arrest: