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Mother whose baby was torn away by NYPD to be released without bail

Posted at 4:43 PM, Dec 11, 2018

The mother whose 1-year-old son was forcefully yanked away by New York Police Department officers last week had her charges dropped and was ordered released on her own recognizance, defense attorneys said.

Jazmine Headley, 23, had been arrested Friday at a Brooklyn social services office and faced four charges, including resisting arrest and acting in a manner injurious to a child. Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez moved to dismiss the charges on Tuesday.

"Like everyone who watched the arrest of Jazmine Headley, I was horrified by the violence depicted in the video and immediately opened an investigation into this case," Gonzalez said, adding that the incident should have been handled differently.

"Continuing to pursue this case will not serve any purpose and I therefore moved today to dismiss it immediately in the interest of justice," he said.

Disturbing video of the arrest, in which Headley's son is ripped away by arresting NYPD officers, has sparked sharp criticism from city officials and unfavorable comparisons to Border Patrol actions during the Trump Administration's family separation policy at the US-Mexico border.

Headley has been in jail in Riker's Island since Friday, held on an outstanding arrest warrant from July 2017 for failure to appear in connection with credit card fraud, said the sheriff's office in Mercer County, New Jersey.

A judge on Tuesday afternoon ordered her release, according to Lisa Schreibersdorf, the executive director of Brooklyn Defender Services who is representing Headley.

"We ask that her privacy is respected at this time, as she has been through a traumatizing ordeal and has not seen her family in five days," Schreibersdorf said.

The decision comes a day after the NYPD said the incident was "troubling" and that they would be reviewing the incident. No NYPD officers have had a duty status change since the incident, an NYPD spokesperson said. Two Human Resources Administration officers involved in the incident are on leave and will be placed on modified duty when they return to work pending an investigation.

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, the union representing NYPD officers, said the officers were put in an impossible situation.

"The event would have unfolded much differently if those at the scene had simply complied with the officers' lawful orders," PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said. "The immediate rush to condemn these officers leaves their fellow cops wondering: when confronted with a similar impossible scenario, what do you want us to do? The answer cannot be 'do nothing.'"

Grandmother says NYPD lied

Headley's mother, Jacqueline Jenkins, told CNN that the officers initially told her there had been no confrontation during the arrest.

When Jenkins went to pick up her grandson at the 84th precinct, three officers said they didn't know what caused the initial complaint and denied there had been any confrontation, she said Tuesday.

It wasn't until hours later, when she saw those same officers on video, that she realized that her grandson had been forcefully yanked away by police and that an officer had pointed a stun gun at her daughter, Jenkins said.

"Why didn't they tell me that it was a very aggressive (arrest), you know? So y'all lied," Jenkins said.

When asked about Jenkins' comments, an NYPD spokesperson directed CNN to earlier comments that the incident was "troubling" and under review.

Jenkins spoke to CNN at the Time Warner Center in New York, where she has worked for a security company employed by CNN's parent company, WarnerMedia, for more than five years.

Jenkins said her daughter is a hard worker and that better communication would have resolved the situation without issue.

"There was a better way to handle it and communicate with a person," Jenkins said. "She's a young mom. She's not one of those moms with an attitude or is nasty. She's a person who's about her business, like I am."

Headley was at the Fort Greene Food Stamp Center to get a voucher for her son's childcare so that she could return to work. She had recently moved back to New York from North Carolina and has been working as a housecleaner of high-end homes for a cleaning service, Jenkins said.

But there were no seats available at the office, so Headley sat on the floor for up to four hours as she waited her turn in line, Jenkins and Schreibersdorf said. Security asked her to stand up and move, but she had nowhere to go, they said.

Office security unnecessarily decided to escalate the issue up to police, who moved to arrest her and separate her from her son, setting off the hectic scene, Jenkins said.

"(This was) uncalled for force. I understand y'all are trying to do whatever job is necessary, but that wasn't necessary," Jenkins said.

Headley is doing OK in jail, Jenkins said, but the incident had been traumatizing and devastating for her entire family.

"I don't want it to be about anything where people look at it like it's a money thing, but I really want to sue the hell out of the cops, the security company and HR because you all went about it terribly," she said. "If my daughter would have died, and my grandson would have gotten hurt with an arm or leg broken, what were you all going to tell me?"

Jenkins said her grandson, Damone, initially seemed healthy, but she did notice he has an odd knot under his neck. She wasn't sure if that was from the arrest or from a common cold, but she said she was worried about him. He is surrounded by family -- the toddler is with Jenkins' fiancé while she works -- but it's clear he knows something is wrong.

"He's looking (around) and he's like, no mommy. I want my mommy," Jenkins said.