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Criticism following photo of man killed by subway

posted 5 Dec 2012, 11:43 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 5 Dec 2012, 11:44 ]

A freelance newspaper photographer defends a picture he took just seconds before a man was hit and killed by a New York subway train after allegedly being pushed from the platform.

NEW YORKNEW YORKUNITED STATES (DECEMBER 5, 2012) (REUTERS) -  Criticism has mounted after a New York City newspaper published a photograph of a man who was moments away from being struck and killed by an oncoming subway train.

Fifty-eight-year old Ki-Suck Han was pushed onto the tracks on Monday (December 3). He was crushed in front of horrified commuters as the southbound Q subway train pulled into the station at 49th Street near Times Square.

On Tuesday (December 4) and Wednesday (December 5), Rupert Murdoch's New York Post published on its covers a photograph of Han as the train approached.

The photograph was taken by New York Post freelance photographer R. Umar Abbasiwho said he just happened to be on the subway platform, after returning from covering another story.

Many people have criticized the publication of the photograph as being in poor taste. Some people have also criticized Abbasi for failing to help Han as he struggled to lift himself from the tracks.

On Wednesday morning's "Today" Show on NBC, Abbasi defended himself and said there was nothing he could have done to help.

"If this thing happened again, with the same circumstances, whether I had a camera or not and I was running towards it, there is no way I could have rescued Mr. Han. What really surprises me is the people who were maybe 100 feet or 150 feet away from Mr. Han did not reach out to help him," said Abbasi.

Abbasi said there was about 22 seconds between the time Han was pushed onto the tracks and when the train arrived.

"Twenty-two seconds is a long time, but in this process, while I am running the person who pushed him is coming towards me and there's a lapse and I brace myself with my back to the wall because I don't want to be pushed onto the platform," he said.

During his "Today" interview, Abbasi also said he had no control over the publication of the photograph.

"I was on assignment. All of the images were provided and I don't control what image is used and how it is used and how it is presented, but out of this whole image, I find that a positive thing can come out. We have started a debate about what could have been done, how could we improve the safety on our subway systems."

On Tuesday, police took into custody the man they believe pushed Han. Police said 30-year-old Naeem Davis confessed to the attack.

Witnesses saw the suspect talking to himself before the altercation, leading to suspicion he may have been mentally disturbed, police said.

The suspect was also captured on subway security cameras talking to Han.

Naeem was expected to appear in a New York court later on Wednesday.