Jazmine Headley, the mother whose baby was ripped from her arms by NYPD officers earlier this month, has spoken out, telling the New York Times in a new interview that she went into “defense mode” when the officers pulled her son away.
“In my head, I told myself they’re not going to let me leave,” she said. “I was so afraid. I was combative with my thoughts.”
A video of the December 7 incident surfaced online last week, showing NYPD officers ripping Headley’s 1-year-old son, Damone, away from her. The incident, which occurred at at a Human Resources Administration building in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, occurred after Headley sat on the waiting-room floor because there were no available seats in the crowded agency.
Headley said that she tried to leave with her son after a dispute with a security guard over whether or not she was allowed to sit on the floor escalated and the police were called. On her way out, a guard grabbed her arm as she tried to leave with Damone, and they all fell to the floor.
What followed was captured in the video: multiple officers can be seen struggling to pull Damone away from Headley as she repeatedly says, “You’re hurting my son.”
Though her memory of what happened is blurry, Headley told the Times, “I just remember being talked to very viciously,” she said. “It was more or less: ‘You’re going to do what I say, and that’s it.’”
“I should’ve left, and I didn’t because if I would’ve left, my son would not have the things that he needs,” she said.
Headley was arrested and held at Rikers Island, and faced charges of harming her child and resisting arrest. After the video went viral, the Brooklyn district attorney dropped those charges, though Headley remained incarcerated due to separate charges of credit card fraud from a previous warrant in New Jersey.
On December 11, a Brooklyn judge ordered her release, and according to the Times, New Jersey authorities have agreed to drop the unrelated charges if Headley completes a pretrial diversion program.
Meanwhile, the police department has defended the actions of the two officers involved, saying that the security guards were to blame for the incident’s escalation.
On Thursday, Headley notified the city of her plans to file a lawsuit to prevent this from happening to anyone else.
“It’s the story of many other people, it’s not just my story,” she told the Times. “My story is the only one that made it to the surface.”