Erika Menendez of Queens who has been charged with second degree murder as a hate crime, after she admitted to deliberately pushing an Indian immigrant onto the path of a subway train, has been ordered to undergo a psychiatric assessment.
During interrogation, after her arrest, she had accepted that she had shoved the person, later identified as 46-year old Sunando Sen, an immigrant from India, because she “hated Hindus and Muslims”.
The victim had bent over the tracks, presumably to see if a train was approaching, when he found himself pushed onto the tracks. He did not even see his assailant, who immediately fled the station, running down the stairs and on to the streets.
Richard A. Brown, the Queen’s attorney said that Sen had no chance to defend himself; the behind-his-back attack caught him unawares. Moreover, he said the detestable clarification allegedly made by the woman, which hastened her actions should never be endured by an enlightened and civil society.
She said that she had developed hatred towards Muslims especially after Sept.11 and had presumed the victim was a Muslim. Judge Gia Morris ordered that the accused be held without bail and also that she be subjected to a psychiatric test.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said that she is guilty of the committing what every subway commuter subconsciously dreads.
Menendez sounded unrepentant and confessed to the police that she’s been beating up the Hindus and Muslims, ever since they conspired to bring down the twin towers. So much so that during her indictment she was laughing uncontrollably that the judge had to intervene and tell her defense lawyer, to ask her to stop.
Prosecutors said that she showed no regret or sorrow and even boasted about smoking pot and having sex with her boyfriend after her vicious conduct.
She was arrested after a vigilant passerby, seeing her on a Brooklyn Street, tipped the police that she resembled the alleged offender on the surveillance video released by the police. Police spokesperson Paul Browne said they received the message on 911 and rushed to the spot and after confirming her identity took her into custody. Police had earlier offered a reward of $12,000 for information leading to her arrest.
This is the second recent death of its kind. Ki-Suck Han was crushed to death in a Manhattan subway station earlier this month. The heartrending picture of him hanging to the edge of the platform, seconds before he was struck, made headlines across the world, raising ethical questions about media and whether the photographer should have helped him rather than click his picture. Incidentally, the photographer later said that there was no way he could have helped him.
In Ki-Suck Han’s case a homeless man was arrested and charged with murder. It is uncertain whether there was anyone in a position to help Sen.
Angel Luis Santiago who worked in the same building where her parents lived said that he was shocked about the whole thing and expressed surprise at her behavior, saying that she never acted that way.
Even as Mayor Michael Bloomberg expressed concern and alarm over the city’s increased crime rates, addressing reporters following a police academy graduation, he said that the subway death must be kept in perspective and called it a very tragic case, but said that the focus should not veer from the overall safety in the city.
Commuters have articulated their distress and apprehension over lack of subway safety and expressed their outrage over what Menendez did.
Following the high-profile death of screenwriter Kendra Webdale, who was pushed to his death by a person who had been a psychiatric patient, it was legislated that the mentally sick people should be supervised carefully after they are discharged from the mental institutions.
This time it seems that subway officials could install barriers with sliding doors on some subway platforms, akin to those in Paris and London.