R. Umar Abbasi, the freelance photographer who took the controversial photo of pushed subway patron Ki Suk Han prior to his demise, spoke out today against "armchair critics" who believe he should have done more to help the victim.
"It all went so quickly," Abbasi writes in a first-person confessional published in today's New York Post. He claims the amount of time that elapsed from the moment he noticed Han on the tracks until he was struck by the oncoming train was 22 seconds — a figure that's significantly less than the 60 to 90 seconds reported by a police source who spoke with DNAinfo.
Still, Abbasi maintains that Han was "too far away to reach" by the time he starting running towards him. He also claims that the man responsible for pushing Han onto the tracks was headed in his direction, and Abbasi was "afraid he might push me onto the tracks."
Abbasi goes on to reiterate that he was only flashing his camera to warn the conductor, not to take photos, and that after the fact he couldn't bear to look at the resulting snapshots.
"I didn't even know at all that I had even captured the images in such detail," he writes. "I didn't look at them. I didn't want to."
Asked on the Today show how the photos came to be published by the Post, Abbasi said he "was approached that there would be interest" and agreed to license them.
"I would call it licensing to use it," he told Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie. "Selling a photograph of this nature sounds morbid. I licensed these photographs. (How the image was used) is not my decision. I was on assignment. I don't control what image is used and how it used and how it is presented."
For its part, the Post has yet to issue a statement responding to criticism of its decision to cover its front page with a photo of a man about to die.
Meanwhile, former deli worker Naeem Davis was arrested in connection with the crime.
According to authorities, the 30-year-old allegedly confessed to pushing Han, saying "I begged him to leave me alone, and he wouldn't." The two were reportedly engaged in a heated argument, a portion of which was caught on camera by a bystander.
[screengrab via Today]