Outrage over New York Post front page showing man about to be killed by Subway train

Picture shows a man struggling to get off the tracks after being pushed by an attacker

Imagine the scene. A train is pulling into a busy New York subway station near Times Square. On the platform is the usual big city jumble of commuters and wide-eyed tourists. But in a horrific departure from the norm, there is a man on the track, moments away from certain death. What do you do?

If you're R Umar Abbasi, a freelance photographer for the New York Post who was on the mid-town platform as such a scene unfolded on Monday, you wield your camera.

"I had my camera up. It wasn't even set to the right settings and I just kept shooting and flashing, hoping the train driver would see something and be able to stop," Mr Abbasi said, recounting the tragic event.

Right settings or not, Mr Abbasi managed to capture a clear image of Ki-Suck Han, the man on the platform. Moments later, Mr Han was fatally run over by a Q-Train. And the next day, Mr Abbasi's newspaper published an oversized record of the scene on its front page, prompting questions about the rights and wrongs of, first, capturing such an image and, once the die has been cast, publishing it with a bombastic headline.

Today, police in New York arrested and charged Naeem Davis, a 30-year-old homeless man who had been taken in for questioning on Tuesday, for the death of Mr Han. Mr Davis , who was reported to have several prior arrests on his record, was detained on a charge of second degree murder after police tracked him down based on leads from a security video and he is said to have implicated himself in the death of Mr Han, 58, during questioning.

Meanwhile, questions were being asked about the New York Post's decision to publish the image of the scene with the headline: "DOOMED". A subheading above said: "Pushed on the track, this man is about to die".

David Carr, the long-standing media commentator at the New York Times, couldn't have been clearer on where he stood. "The treatment of the photo was driven by a moral and commercial calculus that was sickening to behold," he wrote in a blog post yesterday.

At ProPublica, the investigative journalism non-profit organisation, reporter Charles Ornstein tweeted that the cover image "crosses the line". "A pic of a man pushed onto a subway track right before he is struck and killed. Grim," he said in what was one of many messages critiquing the image posted by users on the micro-blogging website.

The photographer, Mr Abbasi, also faced criticism despite his defence that he was using the camera to alert the subway driver. In a piece for the Post, he wrote: "The victim was so far away from me, I was already too far away to reach him when I started running. The train hit the man before I could get to him, and nobody closer tried to pull him out."

Mr Abbasi added: "I have to say I was surprised at the anger over the pictures... But I can't let the armchair critics bother me. They were not there. They have no idea how very quickly it happened... People think I had time to set the camera and take photos, and that isn't the case. I just ran toward that train."

John Cook, at US online blog network Gawker Media, sounded a note of scepticism about the account, saying it was "amazing" that Mr Abbasi "took a focused composed pic" of Mr Han "even [though] he says he was just using [the] flash to warn."

But Vincent Laforet, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, said he was taking Mr Abassi's explanation at face value. "If he felt he could not physically make it to the man... firing his flash to get the operator's attention may have been his only recourse," he told Gawker Media.

Moreover, he made the case that recording disturbing events, in instances where intervention is not possible, "can be a necessary act that could potentially prevent it from happening to others in the future".

He added: "In this particular case, it appears that little could have been done to save this man in time."

A representative for the New York Post did not immediately respond to a request for comment today.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?