The man accused of putting a woman on the subway tracks in Times Square was acting in self-defense, his lawyer said at his first appearance in court on Saturday.
Carlos Ortiz, 32, is accused of hijacking women’s belongings at the 42nd Street subway station, later pushing her on the tracks of the northbound R-train, according to police.
But Ortiz’s attorney, Francis White of Legal Aid, argued that witnesses who spoke to police and the media unfairly assumed his client was a “robber” or a “thief.”
“People seem to have a very weak case,” White said.
“He is clearly – even according to their theory to some extent – a victim, someone who has been attacked by a woman who falls into the subway.”
On Friday around 1:45 pm Ortiz allegedly seized a woman’s belongings at the 42nd Street subway station and pushed her onto the track for the northbound R train, according to police. Attendees quickly took action, helping her off the tracks back onto the platform and even catching Ortiz as he tried to flee, holding him until police arrived on the scene, police said.
The 36-year-old woman was transported to Bellevue Hospital with head injuries. Ortiz was arrested and charged with assault Friday after a witness identified him in a police row, officials said.
Ortiz appeared disorderly in court on Saturday, wearing a dirty gray sweatshirt.
“We have a situation here where someone fell into a subway in a quarrel, so the supposedly good Samaritans assumed that the driver was a robber and a criminal, and made statements to the police, or to the press, or someone for that purpose.” said.
“Assuming that what appeared to be happening was my client being contacted by someone and he was protecting himself,” White added.
Video footage of the attack appears to show the victim hitting Ortiz moments before he pushed her onto the tracks, Assistant District Attorney Jacqueline Sudley revealed.
“This is a serious case where the defendant is charged with pushing a woman onto the subway tracks after an altercation, causing the woman hospitalized with a serious head injury,” Studley said Saturday.
“There is a video of the plaintiff attacking or attempting to attack the defendant in the moments before the defendant pushing the plaintiff on the subway routes,” she said. “There is also an eyewitness who testified that the plaintiff beat the defendant before the push.”
White requested that Ortiz be released on a controlled release, but that request was denied by Judge Robert Rosenthal, who placed his bail on a $ 5,000 cash and $ 30,000 bond. The prosecution asked for bail to be set at $ 20,000 cash.
“This is a very strong possibility that there will be a terrible miscarriage of justice if bail is set,” White said. “My client is described in newspapers as a homeless person. Obviously he can’t bail. “
Ortiz has one previous felony in New York, according to Studley, with two other felony convictions in Connecticut, for which he served one year in prison after providing police with two separate names. He also had multiple terms in 2014 for charges such as aggressive selling and intrusion. Those charges were all dismissed, except one where he made $ 1 bail.
His next court appearance will be on Thursday, November 18th.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul responded to the alleged attack on Friday, vowing to make the city’s public transportation system safer.
“I’m horrified that a woman was pushed onto the tracks at Times Square subway station today, and I’m hoping for her full recovery,” she said. said in a tweet Friday. “I work with @MTA and our City partners to make our transit system safer. No one should ride the train or walk the streets in fear. “