Video: NYPD Officers Hold Up L Train To Force Weary Man Out Of Subway Station
Earlier this year, in response to the demands of Governor Andrew Cuomo, the MTA announced they’d be deploying hundreds of new cops to address “quality of life” issues on the subway. It’s not yet clear if the added enforcement has resulted in an increase in arrests and summonses in the subway system, but the beefed-up presence has already raised concerns over police overreach, with criminal justice advocates pointing to recent incidents of alleged brutality that went viral on social media.
The latest entrant to that category comes in a video posted to Twitter on Thursday, showing two police officers confronting a man named Miguel for falling asleep on a subway platform. As he demands to know what he’s done wrong, the officers grab his bag, then physically remove him from the train that he’s just boarded.
Video of the altercation was filmed by freelance journalist Erin Quinlan. She says the incident occurred Tuesday just after 11 p.m. on the 1st Avenue L train platform.
“He was sitting on a bench near us, not doing anything that drew our attention,” Quinlan, an Inwood resident, told Gothamist. “All of a sudden I heard these rising voices on the periphery. I look over and see two police officers engaging with this person in a confrontational, adversarial way.”
Police officers in the video, one of whom identifies himself as Officer Fahad Tahir, refuse to state a justification for ejecting the man from the subway. “Why are you throwing me out? It’s not fair. I paid my $3.00,” he says. The officers say only that they’d spoken to him before.
“I was resting. I fell asleep on the bench,” Miguel offers. “I occupied more than one seat.” As the cops insist that he follow them out of the station, he replies, “My body’s not so well and I can’t walk all the way from here to 14th Street.”
Officers escalated the situation, Quinlan said, when an L train arrived and Miguel attempted to get on. “They held up the train and blocked the doors from closing,” she recalled. “At one point he stood up, and police seemed to give up on talking to him and just shoved him off the train onto a bench.”
In the video, people could be heard shouting at the cops to move from the doors and leave the man alone. “I was rattled and shocked and felt powerless,” said Quinlan.
A spokesperson for the NYPD told Gothamist that the man was not arrested.
“Officers assigned to address quality of life conditions at stations along the along the ‘L’ line, observed a male sleeping on a transit platform bench at the 1st Avenue station,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “The officers roused the male and he informed the officers that he was waiting for the next Brooklyn bound train. The officers used their discretion and resumed patrol. Over an hour later, the officers returned to the station and discovered the same male still sleeping on the bench. The officers again used their discretion and decided to remove the male from the Transit system without additional enforcement.”
Earlier this summer, Governor Cuomo directed the MTA to crack down on New Yorkers seeking shelter in the subway system, citing a “staggering” 54 percent spike in homeless-induced subway delays. According to the MTA, homeless people were responsible for 659 delays in 2018, a year in which the subway averaged 57,774 weekday delays per month.
A report from the homelessness task force convened by the MTA was released last month is nine pages long, features no new substantive recommendations, and is not signed by a single person.
A spokesperson for the MTA did not respond to Gothamist’s questions about the incident, including whether the agency supports cops delaying trains to kick people out of the subway.