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Fatal Subway Push Suspect Charged with Murder

By DNAinfo Staff | December 5, 2012 1:51pm | Updated on December 6, 2012 6:40am

NEW YORK CITY — The man who confessed to killing a straphanger by shoving him into the path of a Q train has been charged with murder, police said Wednesday.

Naeem Davis, 30, whom authorities described as homeless, was hit with both intentional murder and murder through depraved indifference charges in the death of Ki-Suck Han.

Davis was arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court Wednesday night. On a murder charge, Davis faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

Police and witnesses said Davis and Han, 58, exchanged heated words on the platform of the 49th Street and Seventh Avenue station at 12:30 p.m. Monday before Davis shoved Han, sending him flying onto the subway tracks.

"He was annoying me. He wouldn't stop," Davis told investigators, according to sources.

During the next minute, Davis, along with dozens of people on the platform, watched as Han stood up and approached the platform, trying to pull himself up to safety, only to be crushed by the oncoming train, sources said.

Davis promptly fled and Han was later transported to St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Davis was held without bail Wednesday night and is next scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 11, the Manhattan District Attorney's office said.

Davis, who was wearing a striped sweater, jeans and sneakers and was not handcuffed, did not speak during his arraignment.

Assistant District Attorney James Lin said Davis pushed off against the wall of the subway station to gather extra force as he hurled Han onto the tracks like a bowling ball.

After Han was struck, Davis calmly put on his jacket, picked up his coffee and walked away, Lin said.

Davis is originally from Sierra Leone and immigrated to the United States when he was 7 years old, after suffering a stomach wound from a mortar attack during the country's civil war, defense attorney Stephen Pokart said.

Police found Davis Tuesday near 50th Street and Seventh Avenue, just a block from the scene of the crime, after a worker for Gray Line New York Sightseeing recognized him and told a detective.

"I told him I could find this guy," said the Gray Line worker, who asked not to be named. "I saw his best friend and called the cop and said they're together all the time pushing carts."

Once in custody, Davis confessed to pushing his victim but claimed he didn't know a train was approaching the station, sources said.

Davis said he didn't shove Han because he wanted to kill him, just because he wanted Han to go away, sources said.

But Davis still showed no remorse about the incident, according to sources.

As part of their investigation, police brought in three witnesses to identify the pusher, only one of whom recognized Davis, sources said.

People in the area said Davis was a neighborhood regular who helped street vendors break down their equipment and cart away their wares for $10 at the end of each day.

A nearby newsstand vendor said she saw the suspect Tuesday morning and he was wearing the same clothes as in cellphone footage of the incident released by the NYPD.

"I said to him, 'This looks like you,'" said Liz Williams, the news vendor who said Davis has run errands for her. "He said, 'It's not me. He's 20 years old.'"

Davis has several prior arrests in the city including one for loitering in a park. He had been due to go to court Wednesday on that charge, sources said.

He was also arrested for smoking marijuana in public and other minor incidents like street vending without a license, sources said.

Those from the neighborhood who knew him said he was generally calm and frequented a mosque near Madison Square Park.

"If he had two cigarettes, he'd give you one," said Jose Rivera, a street vendor. "I never seen him get in an argument."

Han's distraught relatives said Wednesday that they are trying to make sense of his sudden death.

"Our family is grieving right now, but we want to thank everyone who has reached out to us and offered their help," Serim Han, Han's wife, said through an interpreter. "We are suffering and in sorrow, but we have the support of family, friends and our church to help us through this time."

Han's daughter Ashley Han, 20, a student at Hunter College, said she was trying not to dwell on the fact that no one helped her father in the last moments of his life.

"What's done is done," Ashley Han said. "Yeah, the thought of someone helping him up in a matter of seconds is nice. But what's done is done."

"I just wish that I could see my dad one more time," she added, "so I could tell him how much I love him. I miss him so much."

With Paul Lomax and Julie Shapiro