Watch CBS News

Mother in viral video where New York police yank toddler from her arms speaks out

Jazmine Headley released, reunited with son
Jazmine Headley released from jail, reunited with son 02:05

New York — A mother who had her toddler yanked from her arms by New York police in a widely seen video said in an interview published Sunday that she went into "defense mode."

"In my head, I told myself they're not going to let me leave," Jazmine Headley told The New York Times. "I was so afraid. I was combative with my thoughts."

The video captured the chaotic scene that unfolded Dec. 7 as officers tried to remove Headley from a crowded Brooklyn social services office, where she had sat on the floor for two hours because of a lack of chairs.

Police were called when she refused a security guard's order to leave. Headley told the Times she was sitting on the floor with her back against the wall and talking to her son, who was in a stroller. She said she refused, pointing out trash and recycling bins against the wall on the other side of her son's stroller.

"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.'"


Headley said her memory of the incident is blurry. She said she picked up her son and tried to leave after one of the officers said they didn't want to arrest her. Police said one of the guards then grabbed the 23-year-old mother's arm and they fell to the ground.

Headley said she again tried to go but a police officer told her it was too late.

"I should've left, and I didn't because if I would've left, my son would not have the things that he needs," Headley said.

The two security guards have been placed on modified duty. The guard's union president, Gregory Floyd, said they tried to reason with Headley for 40 minutes before police arrived. He said one of the guards was bitten during the tussle.

The two police officers remain on active duty.

On Friday, Headley has resolved an unrelated case against her in New Jersey, according to the public defender's office representing her.

In dropping charges of obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest, endangering the welfare of a child and trespassing on Tuesday, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said he was "horrified by the violence depicted in the video." His office previously said that they hadn't requested bail on the charges and that Headley was being held last weekend on unrelated credit card fraud charges out of Mercer County, New Jersey.

"In our experience, people are often treated abysmally when seeking support from many of the city bureaucracies that are supposed to be helping them," Lisa Schreibersdorf, executive director of Brooklyn Defender Services, said in a statement.

Headley's family told CBS News York the ordeal and the use of force were unnecessary.

"There was no reason for NYPD to tug and pull like the way they did with him — he was rag-doll basically. And she was really trying to protect him, and you heard him screaming," the child's grandmother, Jacqueline Jenkins, who cared for the boy while her daughter was in jail, told CBS New York.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.