NYPD officers, seen on video ripping a toddler from his mother's arms last week during an arrest in Brooklyn, are not facing any punishment, while two peace officers have been suspended without pay.
A REPORT CLAIMS PEACE OFFICERS COULD HAVE DEFUSED THE SITUATION
Steven Banks, the commissioner of the city's Department of Social Services, said Friday that the two peace officers have been suspended without pay, after they were initially placed on modified duty. The peace officers with the Human Resources Administration, which is a division of the Department of Social Services, had called police after 23-year-old Jazmine Headley sat on the floor of a social services office in Brooklyn during a four-hour wait. The officers called police after Headley got into a dispute with the officers, and the situation escalated.
HRA issued a report saying there were multiple moments when the situation should have been defused and that, going forward, HRA officers will not be allowed to involve NYPD officers without first contacting a center director.
The NYPD also conducted its own review, saying, in part, "This review shows that prior to the incident depicted on public video, NYPD officers are working with the client to de-escalate the situation. The review also shows that there are policy improvements we can make, both in NYPD procedure and in our coordination with fellow agencies."
Police were called when Headley refused a security guard's order to leave. She ended up lying face-up on the floor during a tug of war over her 18-month-old son.
"You're hurting my son!" are the words Headley screamed as she was forcibly arrested and her child grabbed from her arms.
Other clients shouted at the officers. At one point, an officer can be seen on video from a bystander pulling her stun gun and pointing it at people in the angry crowd.
Headley was charged with obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest, endangering the welfare of a child, and trespassing, but those charges were later dropped.
UNION: PEACE OFFICERS ARE BEING USED AS SCAPEGOATS
Greg Floyd, the head of Teamsters Union Local 237, the union that represents the two peace officers, fired back after the officers were suspended. He said they're being used as scapegoats.
"How can you suspend two peace officers who are not on the video everybody is disturbed about, and you're blaming them for it, and what everyone is disturbed about nothing's happened?" Floyd said in a phone interview.
"The mayor is afraid of the PBA [the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, the union that represents New York City patrol officers]," Floyd said. "He's afraid of the police officers and he looked for a scapegoat, so he took two minority women who can barely make a living, make less than the police officers, during Christmastime and he suspends them for his own political life."
In their written statements, the two Human Resources Administration officers said it was Headley who escalated the situation. One said "the female client intentionally used her toddler son as a shield." The other wrote that "NYPD officers tried to get the baby off her but she was putting up a fight. She kicked me on my right shoulder and P.O. Weekes also got bitten on her left arm." A source gave NY1 a picture of the injury:
"The woman was belligerent. When the police officers came, she took her baby out of the stroller and used that baby as a shield, and that's what you saw, and the police officers were trying to prevent her from hurting the baby because she was holding the baby so tight the baby could have gotten injured," Floyd said.
But the NYPD said a preliminary review showed the incident was escalated by HRA personnel and would likely have been avoided without that escalation. Prior to what we see on the viral video of the arrest, the review showed that after a terse verbal exchange between Headley and an HRA officer, Headley appeared to head toward an exit when the HRA officer grabbed her arm, resulting in both being pulled to the ground.
In a statement, the HRA said the two officers were suspended without pay and the agency will file disciplinary charges against them that could result in termination. All HRA peace officers will also be retrained.
"They made up the story, they suspended the officers, and the mayor, with his incompetence, is trying to cover himself," Floyd said.
This story includes information from the Associated Press.
Main story image above of the incident courtesy of Nyashia Ferguson via Facebook.