[UPDATE: Read an account of the woman punching her assailant below] A disturbing video appears to show a man on the subway sexually assaulting a woman while she sleeps. Several commenters chastise the uploader, user Jasheem Smiley, for not stopping the man from groping the woman, but Smiley responds that he in fact contacted an NYPD transit officer after the fact, and confronted the man as it happened: "I took charge after I got proof (video recording)."
Smiley, who appears to have been profiled this spring in a New York Times column on stop-and-frisk, writes,
I contacted the nypd transit detective. There is ongoing investigation. No foul negative attitude on my page please. I have a sister to of course I didn't just sit there I took charge after i got proof (video recording). btw she woke up n got of the train ...
Messages sent to Smiley have not been returned. We spoke with Smiley (below). The faces of the woman and the man have been obscured in the video below. [Update March 23rd, 2015: The NYPD has arrested the suspect, and we've decided to remove the video.]
Anyone with any information regarding this alleged crime should contact Crime Stoppers. We'll update the post as more information becomes available.
[UPDATE // 4:25 p.m.] Smiley tells us that the incident he caught on film occurred at around 3:30 a.m. Saturday morning on the southbound 4 train. He says that after he got on the train at 116th Street, he noticed that the woman's iPhone was resting on her chest as she slept. "I have an iPhone too, and I knew someone might try to steal it, so I tapped her foot to wake her up and tell her to put the phone away." Smiley says he did this several times before she woke up and put the phone in her purse. She then fell back asleep.
"This guy gets on at 96th Street, and the look on his face was just so suspicious," Smiley says of the man who sexually assaulted the woman. "He gave her a look like he knew her or something, and I turned the music off in my headphones to hear what was going on. When he started touching her that's when I turned my camera on. My jaw dropped. I had never seen anything like this before." Immediately after taking the footage, Smiley said he and another male passenger began shouting at the man to stop.
"We told him, 'that's not right!' But he kept touching her, so I kicked her foot so she'd wake up, but she didn't," Smiley said. "Then he put his arm around her to try and pull her closer and that's when she woke up. She gave him a look like, 'who the hell are you?' and punched him in the cheek…She punched him pretty hard."
Smiley adds that the woman then exited the train at the next stop, and that she didn't appear intoxicated or impaired when she walked away. He then found the conductor and showed her the video. "By the time she stopped the train at 14th Street, [the man] had gotten off, either at 23rd Street or 14th Street."
The conductor referred Smiley to the NYPD, who then put him in touch with an MTA detective, who was not immediately available for comment. [The MTA now confirms that they are not handling the case, and the NYPD transit detective handling the case was not immediately available for comment.]
Asked to respond to comments that he shouldn't have been filming the encounter at all, Smiley, a second-year criminal justice student at BMCC, says, "I took 18 seconds of video, and I was startled. I had never seen anything like that before in my life. I just wanted to get the guy on camera. And as soon as I did, I told the conductor, the NYPD, and the MTA police."