Umar Abbasi Says He Could Not Save Ki Suk Han From NYC Subway Death


The Wall Street Journal reports police questioned a suspect in the death of 58-year-old Ki-Suck Han, from Queens, who died after being pushed onto the tracks of the New York City subway — and photographed just before a train hit him by a New York Post photographer whose image drew broad criticism after it appeared on the front page of the tabloid. 

"I wanted to help the man, but I couldn't figure out how to help [...] it all happened so fast," said Post photographer Abbasi in a video interview on the paper's website. He claims, though, that he used the flash on his camera to try to warn the train driver that someone was on the tracks. "I'm not strong enough to have lifted the victim," he added.

Meanwhile, Kenny Irby, an expert in the ethics of visual journalism at the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based nonprofit journalism school, told the WSJ that the moral issue among professional photojournalists in such situations is "to document or to assist" — suggesting a defense of Abbasi who might have been torn between his duties as a citizen and a photo journalist.  

However, other media personalities — such as NBC Today's Al Roker and CNN's Soledad O'Brien — criticized the Post not only for taking the picture in the first place but also for publishing it on the cover in a sensational manner.

"I'm sorry. Somebody's on the tracks. That's not going to help," said Roker. "I think it's terribly disturbing — imagine if that were your father or brother," tweeted O’Brien.  

Weigh in: What would have you done in Abbasi's shoes?