The photojournalist who captured a man’s impending death for the New York Post’s Tuesday edition defended his decision on NBC’s Today Show Wednesday, saying he couldn’t have saved the victim, Ki-Suk Han, from being hit and killed by a subway train.
“If this thing happened again, with the same circumstances, whether I had a camera or not and I was running towards it, there was no way I could have rescued Mr. Han,” said freelance photographer R. Umar Abbasi, who took two photos of Han after he had been allegedly pushed onto the tracks at a Manhattan subway station. “What really surprises me is, the people who were maybe 100 feet, or 150 feet away from Mr. Han, they did not reach out to help him.”
Abbasi’s photographs were criticized after they ran in the newspaper, including by Today Show meteorologist Al Roker, who said, “Somebody’s taking that picture. Why aren’t they helping this guy up?” Roker did not take part in the interview, which was conducted by hosts Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer.
WNBC-TV reported that police have a suspect in custody connected to the incident, a 30-year-old former deli worker who has allegedly made statements implicating himself in Han’s death.
Video released just beforehand shows the unidentified suspect telling Han, “Take your (bleep) over there, stand in line, wait for the R train, that’s it,” which one official told The New York Times indicates some sort of dispute beforehand. The suspect allegedly did odd jobs for subway vendors, often delivering their items to storage.
Abbasi said Wednesday that, as he ran toward Han using his camera flash to attempt to alert the train’s conductor, the suspect came toward him, forcing him to back away in fear of suffering the same fate.
The photographer also admitted to selling his images of Han, but pointed out that he wasn’t the only person filming at the scene.
“What surprised me is, there were so many cellular telephones that were taking video of a dead body while the doctor was trying to perform CPR,” Abbasi said.
Update: ABC News reported Wednesday that police have identified the suspect as 30-year-old Naeem Davis. Davis’ charges include “murder second degree: intentional, as well as murder second degree: depraved indifference.” Davis is scheduled for arraignment Wednesday night.
Watch Abbasi’s interview on The Today Show, aired Wednesday on NBC, below.