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Homeless man charged with murder in New York subway death

This news story was published on December 6, 2012.
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By Tina Susman, Los Angeles Times –

NEW YORK — Police on Wednesday filed murder charges against a homeless man who is accused of pushing another man onto a subway track, where the victim was crushed to death by a train as scores of people watched.

Naeem Davis, 30, was arrested Tuesday after video and photographs of him were circulated across the city. The images were captured in the moment before Ki-Suck Han, 58, of the New York City borough of Queens was thrown onto the track Monday.

Video showed Han in a verbal altercation with another man, who police say was Davis. A statement from police said Davis was charged with attempted murder in the second degree, and murder in the second degree with depraved indifference.

Han, who was on his way to the Korean consulate to renew his passport when he was thrown from the Midtown Manhattan subway platform, is to be buried later Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the freelance photographer who took a chilling picture of Han seconds before the train hit said Wednesday that there was “no way” he could have saved the man but that other people in the station could probably have pulled him to safety.

R. Umar Abbasi told NBC’s “Today” show that he had been in Times Square shooting an assignment for the New York Post and was on a platform at a nearby subway station when, out of the corner of his eye, he “saw a body flying off onto the tracks.”

“There was a collective gasp, and that got my attention,” Abbasi said. At that point, he saw the man on the tracks and saw the lights of a train approaching.

Abbasi said he began running toward the scene and snapping pictures in hopes the flash of his camera would alert the conductor of the train.

The New York Post, which ran the photograph of Han’s desperate attempt to pull himself to safety on its front page Tuesday, has come under fire for subjecting Han’s family in Queens to the image.

Abbasi also has been criticized for taking pictures rather than saving Han.

“If this thing had happened again with the same circumstances, whether I had a camera or not and I was running toward it, there is no way I could have rescued Mr. Han,” Abbasi said. “What really surprises me,” he added, “is the people who were maybe 100 or 150 feet away from Mr. Han — they did not reach out to help him.”

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