Homeless man arrested in deadly subway push

COLLEEN LONG
Last updated 12:35 06/12/2012
Subway
These two men scuffled on the subway platform with one of them being thrown onto the tracks where he died.

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A New York man has been charged with murder for pushing a subway rider onto the tracks before he was crushed by an oncoming train at a Manhattan station earlier.

Naeem Davis, 30, was charged with one count of second degree murder and one count of second degree murder with depraved indifference, New York City police said.

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

He was expected to be arraigned in New York State Supreme Court later on Wednesday (Thursday NZT).

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

Monday’s incident has struck a nerve among riders of the subway used by over five million riders a day who were often jostled by strangers on often-crowded platforms.

Earlier on Wednesday, the news photographer whose pictures of Han in the path of the train unleashed a maelstrom 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 to the presence of the stunned victim on the tracks.

Seconds later the train struck and killed Han, a resident of Queens.

‘‘My condolences to the family, and if I could have, I would have pulled Mr Han out,’’ Abbasi said on NBC’s ‘‘Today’’ show.

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

It showed Han trying to pull himself from the tracks and looking into the lights of the oncoming train and the headlines ‘‘DOOMED’’ and ‘‘Pushed on the subway track, this man is about to die.’’

‘CAPITALISING ON CITIZEN’S DEATH’

Criticism of Abbasi and The Post was rife in social media.

‘‘As usual, nothing but disgust for NYPost — capitalising on a citizen’s death on the MTA with gruesome, exploitative headline and photo,’’ read one tweet from a New York resident.

Another New Yorker tweeted, ‘‘I will seriously never buy NYPost or go to their site again. This is absolutely disgusting and makes my skin crawl.’’

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

‘‘I didn’t even know at all that I had even captured the images in such detail.’’

Abbasi took a New York Times reporter back to the scene to re-enact his movements after Han was thrown to the tracks after having what witnesses described as an argument with Davis.

Abbasi told The Times that he held his camera outstretched in front of the train, snapping his flash 49 times in a vain attempt to get the motorman to slow down.

The motorman has been hospitalised for trauma after the incident, the Post and New York Daily News reported.

‘‘People think I had time to set the camera and take photos, and that isn’t the case,’’ Abbasi wrote in the Post story.

‘‘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.’’

- AP

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