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Brooklyn Mother Released From Rikers Island After Video Of Arrest Sparks Outrage

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – A judge on Tuesday ordered the release of a mother jailed after police violently pulled her toddler son from her arms in a videotaped encounter in the crowded waiting room of a New York City social services office.

The development came hours after Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said that "in the interest of justice" he was dropping all charges against Jazmine Headley in Friday's incident.

According to public defender Scott Hechinger, Headley was back in her home Tuesday night.

Headley, who was also being held on a warrant in an unrelated credit card fraud case in New Jersey, is due to appear in court Wednesday in that matter.

Headley and two other people are accused of making or using a dozen credit cards printed with numbers and names that didn't match their magnetic strips and having a driver's license that didn't belong to them.

Gonzalez said Tuesday he was "horrified by the violence depicted in the video and immediately opened an investigation into this case."

"It is clear to me that this incident should have been handled differently. An HRA officer escalated the situation as Ms. Headley was about to leave the premises, creating an awful scenario of a baby being torn from his mother," his statement continued. "The consequences this young and desperate mother has already suffered as a result of this arrest far outweigh any conduct that may have led to it: she and her baby have been traumatized, she was jailed on an unrelated warrant and may face additional collateral consequences.

Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the district attorney's decision on Twitter.

"This morning my office spoke to the Brooklyn DA about dropping the charges against Ms. Headley. I applaud the DA's decision to do so. She should be reunited with her child as soon as possible," he posted.

"It should never be a crime to be in crisis. Charges should never have been filed against Jazmine Headley for the incident at the SNAP center in Boaerum Hill, and I thank District Attorney Gonzalez for his leadership in dismissing this case," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who called on Gonzalez to drop charges Monday. "Our shared priority must be immediately releasing her from Rikers Island and reuniting her with her infant son."

Damone is in the care of his grandparents, waiting for his mother to be come home after the altercation.

"It was appalling, heartbreaking, disturbing," City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said. "That three minute video encapsulates and shows you in a very short period of time many things that are wrong in our criminal justice system right now. That a parent could be separated from her child so quickly, the violence involved, the fact that she was waiting for four hours at a HRA center for child care vouchers. It's sort of the confluence of the systemic issues that really plague our city I think in a pretty uneven, unfair and disturbing way."

Headley's family said she had been waiting at the HRA office for four hours to renew daycare service for Damone. Witnesses told CBS2 there were no chairs, so she sat on the floor.

"There was not enough seating, I think a lot of people had no place to sit, and she was sitting on the floor. She was asked to move multiple times, there was no place to go," Schreibersdorf said. "Security, I guess, decided to call 911."

A Taser was pulled out and 911 was called after HRA peace officers tried to remove Headley because of what they described as "disorderly conduct towards others and for obstructing the hallway."

Watch: Eric Adams Calls For Charges To Be Dropped 

Police Commissioner James O'Neill said the NYPD officers' body cameras will be reviewed.

"It's disturbing, but we have to see what led up to the event. What were the actions of the people from HRA, what were the actions of our police officers?" he said.

The HRA peace officers have been placed on modified duty.

"HRA centers must be safe havens for New Yorkers needing to access benefits to improve their lives. I am deeply troubled by the incident and a thorough review was launched over the weekend to get to the bottom of what happened. I am reinforcing efforts to train officers and staff to better defuse situations before the NYPD is called for assistance and directing refresher de-escalation trainings for HRA Peace Officers and FJC security staff immediately," Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks said in a statement Monday.

Headley's family said 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," said Damone's grandmother, Jacqueline Jenkins, who is now caring for the boy. "Had anybody listened to her, then maybe things would've went a different way."

Others who use the food stamp center told CBS2's Natalie Duddridge it happens all the time.

"Everybody's talking and yelling and nobody's being heard, and then they end up in a fight, they want to call the security guards. The security guards are always really rough, usually right in front of the children," Vega said.

"Yeah I've seen it. It happens a lot, it always happens. We're here for seven hours and more just waiting to be seen," another woman added.

Lisa Schreibersdorf, of Brooklyn Defender Services, says there has been "quite a bit of overcrowding in many of these facilities, in part due to I think some closures."

Headley will be released on her own recognizance, but the handling of the case has sparked outrage. A pair of rallies were held in Manhattan and Brooklyn on Tuesday afternoon.

Police Commissioner James O'Neill said the NYPD officers' body cameras will be reviewed.

"It's disturbing, but we have to see what led up to the event. What were the actions of the people from HRA, what were the actions of our police officers?" he said.

The NYPD and HRA say there's more to the story that will come out after review of the video, specifically that the peace officers were injured by Headley. Still, that doesn't address pulling of that child, or the Taser that was waved at the crowd. Headley's family hopes the outcry prevents similar treatment from happening again.

"I just want my baby home," Jenkins said. "This never should happened. I wouldn't want this to happen to anybody's child."

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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