NYC Subway

Man Who Threatened NYC Subway Riders Dies After One Put Him in Chokehold: Sources

A 24-year-old was taken into custody for questioning and later released, the NYPD said, but the question remains: Was this heroism, or vigilantism?

NBC Universal, Inc.

A 30-year-old man died aboard a Manhattan subway train Monday following an altercation that began with him threatening other passengers, according to investigators, and ended with him being put into a chokehold.

The NYPD says it was called to the Broadway-Lafayette station in NoHo around 2:25 p.m. for a 911 report of a physical fight in a northbound F train. The man was unconscious on the car floor when officers arrived.

Witnesses and law enforcement sources said the individual got on the train and started acting very aggressively toward other riders, threatening to harm them.

"The man got on the subway car and began to say a somewhat aggressive speech, saying he was hungry, he was thirsty, that he didn't care about anything, he didn't care about going to jail, he didn't care that he gets a big life sentence," said Juan Alberto Vazquez, who was in the subway car and recording part of what happened afterward. "That 'It doesn't even matter if I died.'"

Vazquez said he was scared, and believes others on the train were as well. It was then that a 24-year-old rider came up behind the man and put him in a chokehold, holding him on the ground. Two other men stood over them and also helped subdue the man, video showed.

"If there was fear, the people who...were there where he separated everything, moved from their place. I stayed sitting in my place because it was a little further away, but obviously in those moments, well, one feels fear. One thinks he may be armed," Vazquez said.

He said that the chokehold lasted about 15 minutes, even as the train stopped at the Broadway-Lafayette station and the doors opened. That's when Vazquez said most of the people who were inside the train car left, with a few exceptions, including the three who had been working to subdue the man.

Marc Santia reporting on the fight that turned deadly on the subway.

The individual in the chokehold died at the scene, according to police. Vazquez said no one thought the man would die, even after he went limp.

"I think no one though he was in a risky situation because he was defending himself all the time, all the time he moved, he tried to remove his arm," said Vazquez. "Then when they had it on his side, he kept kicking, so we thought that's him defending himself."

The 24-year-old who delivered the chokehold was questioned and later released, the NYPD said. He was not facing any charges as of Tuesday night, and it wasn't clear if he would be charged at a later date. The Manhattan district attorney's office are conducting an ongoing investigation into the incident.

"The way detectives have to look at this case is, what would a reasonable person do and what would a reasonable person be expected to do," said former NYPD Chief of Department Terry Monahan.

The medical examiner has yet to determine a cause of death. Neither the man who died nor the younger man have been identified. NBC New York reached out to the 24-year-old, but he declined to comment.

Law enforcement sources with knowledge of the case said the 30-year-old man had a lengthy criminal history, with charges including assault and disorderly conduct.

Copyright NBC New York
Contact Us