Thursday 18 January 2018

New Yorker charged with pushing passenger in front of oncoming subway train

Naeem Davis stands in front of Judge Lynn Kotler during his arraignment on murder charges. Photo: AP
Naeem Davis stands in front of Judge Lynn Kotler during his arraignment on murder charges. Photo: AP
Screengrab showing Naeem Davis allegedly arguing with Ki Suk Han before pushing him into the path of a train
Naeem Davis, the suspect in the New York Subway pushing case, arrives at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York

Chris Francescani

A NEW YORK man was charged with murder today accused of pushing a subway passenger in front of a train in a tragedy that was captured in a horrific photo published on the front page of a newspaper.

Naeem Davis, 30, was charged with one count of second degree murder and one count of second degree murder with depraved indifference.

He was ordered held without bail pending a second court appearance next Tuesday.

Monday's incident - captured in dramatic photographs with the train bearing down on the hapless victim -- has struck a nerve among commuters on the subway used by over five million passengers a day who are often jostled by strangers on crowded platforms.

The news photographer whose pictures of Han in the path of the train unleashed a storm of criticism said he was too far from the victim to offer help.

R. Umar Abbasi, a freelance photographer for the tabloid New York Post, said he rapidly shot dozens of frames so that his flash might alert the motorman and that he himself was too far away to help.

Seconds later the train struck and killed Han.

Davis was accused of pushing Ki-Suck Han, 58, onto the tracks as a southbound train pulled into the 49th Street station.

Davis was first brought in for questioning on Tuesday, during which he "implicated himself in the incident", according to Police Department spokesman Paul Browne.

Amateur video showed Davis and Han arguing moments before Han was shoved.

"He attacked me first," Davis said as officers escorted him to jail late last night. "He grabbed me."

Manhattan prosecutor James Lin said at a court hearing that Davis "has admitted to lifting [the victim] off his feet and pushing off the wall behind him to add more force" to the fatal thrust.

Han's family recalled him as a caring father who came to the United States from South Korea 25 years ago in search of a better life.

"My dad was always someone who wanted to pursue the American dream. He really enforced my education and he was just always there for me. It's just devastating that he's gone and I'm still in disbelief," Ashley Han, a 20-year-old college student, said.

Speaking softly in Korean with her head bowed, Han's wife thanked supporters and asked the media for privacy.

"We are now grieving because we've lost a husband and a father," Serim Han said.

The New York Post, no stranger to controversy over lurid headlines and stories, sparked greater outrage than usual on Tuesday when it featured one of Mr Abbasi's photographs on its front page.

Under the headline "DOOMED," it showed Han trying to pull himself from the tracks and looking into the lights of the oncoming train.

In a first-person account published in the Post, Abbasi said the incident "was one of the most horrible things I have ever seen, to watch that man dying there."

"The sad part is, there were people who were close to the victim, who watched and didn't do anything," he said. "You can see it in the pictures."

The driver, Terrence Legree, was treated for shock after the incident, the New York Daily News reported.

Legree, who could see Han from his seat at the head of the train, said he noticed people on the platform waving their arms to warn him and said he slammed on the emergency brake when he saw Han on the roadbed.

Legree said he was feeling "all kinds of emotions from 'Why is this happening' to 'Why was that guy down there' to 'What happened?'"

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