Brooklyn mom in toddler tussle video sues the city

BROOKLYN — Her toddler was yanked from her arms at a benefits center and she spent days behind bars; now the Brooklyn mom has filed a lawsuit against New York City, Human Resources Administration peace officers and the NYPD.

Jazmine Headley

Video of the Dec. 7, 2018 incident went viral and city officials promised change and apologized to Jazmine Headley, then 23.

“They’re hurting my son. They’re hurting my son,” Headley can be heard shouting in the video. “I’m begging you.”

The HRA had cut off child care benefits and Headley’s 1-year-old son couldn’t go to day care. Headley took the day off work and brought her son with her to the Boerum Hill HRA office and, tired after an hours-long wait, sat down on the floor. That’s when officers yanked Damone from Headley’s arms.

Criminal charges were dismissed shortly after Headley’s arrest, but the mom and her son “continue to experience the trauma of these events,” according to Headley’s attorneys.

It was her son’s first night away from her.

“My son and I were unreasonably assaulted by untrained and undertrained HRA security officers and police officers. I am taking action so this experience
does not fester and infect our lives, work, relationships and health,” Headley said. “I look forward to redirecting the hurt and anger we feel into more positive outlets for change, such as this lawsuit, protest and community involvement, volunteering for an organization like the Brooklyn Defenders, and joining in a coordinated response to assist others who have experienced abuse.”

The city has implemented a number of reforms since that day, a spokesperson said.

“While we cannot comment on pending litigation, last year’s incident involving Ms. Headley painfully illustrated that more has to be done to improve the client experience in our centers,” a spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office said. “That’s why we’ve implemented and continue to implement systematic changes, including retraining all security staff with an emphasis on de-escalation techniques, requiring implicit bias training for all DSS staff, and putting new response protocols in place with the NYPD, to prevent incidents like this one from happening again.”
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