A man who pushed a subway rider in front of the Q train, killing him, has been found not guilty on all charges, the Manhattan District Attorney said on Monday.
The charges stem from a 2012 incident, in which a 34-year-old street vendor from Sierra Leone named Naeem Davis confessed to shoving Ki-Suck Han in the chest and sending him into the tracks. Davis maintained that he was acting in self-defense, telling DNAinfo that he was reacting to a fight Han had started by the turnstile, and hadn't meant "to push him that hard."
Following the fatal incident, the case took on an added level notoriety after the Post published a controversial photo of Han on the tracks, with the headline, "This man is about to die."
The jury's decision to acquit Davis on charges of murder, manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide concluded the high-profile three-week trial. During the trial, Davis testified that Han made repeated death threats against him on the platform of the subway, and that he "thought the man was mentally ill." Davis also said that he himself is bipolar but is not taking medication.
Prosecutors argued that Davis could have avoided the man after realizing he was drunk—a medical examiner found three times the legal limit of alcohol in his blood—or have pushed him to the side, instead of in the direction of the tracks.
"What he did was the equivalent of throwing a drunk high school student on the tracks, or a feeble old man,” Charles Whitt, the lead prosecutor on the case, told the jury, according to the Times. “He was no threat to Mr. Davis, and Mr. Davis knew it." The prosecutors also played a five-second cell phone video of Davis warning Han to "leave me the f-ck alone."
It took the jury three and a half days of deliberations before siding with Davis, who'd spent the past four and half years in city jails.
"For me, there was a lack of evidence on most of the charges,” jury foreman Gretchen Pfeil told the Post. "As a jury, I think, the vast majority of us from the beginning of our deliberations believed the prosecution had failed to prove that the defendant was not justified in his actions. And by the end of our deliberations, I believe we were of one mind that he was in fact justified in his actions or at least the prosecution had not convinced us otherwise."
"I knew it would happen eventually," Davis told reporters following the verdict. "If you work and have a job and do the right thing, the law is going to work on your behalf."