After Naeem Davis pleaded not guilty to murder Tuesday in Manhattan in relation to the death of a man who was pushed in front of a subway train in Midtown last month, his lawyer claimed his client was battling negative stereotypes from the public.
Davis, seen above, is charged with murder in the death of Ki-Suck Han, 58, at the N/Q/R platform on West 49th Street on December 3.
Prosecutors say Davis watched the train strike Han before leaving.
The defense lawyer, Stephen Pokart, claims Han was drunk and was the aggressor, and that his client was unfairly painted as a villain.
"The dangerous black man who is 200 pounds and 6-feet tall and wearing dreads, 'cause that funny kind of hair that black people have, you know, you have to watch out because he is a dangerous black man," Pokart said.
The attorney said Davis is nowhere near that size and did not have dreadlocks, as some reports initially suggested.
Davis and Han got into a confrontation on the subway platform right before the incident.
Video tape recorded by other passengers shows Davis telling Han, "Leave me the (obscenity) alone, take your (obscenity), go stand on the platform and wait for the R train."
Davis told police Han grabbed him, so he pushed him, and then Han fell onto the tracks and was hit by a train.
Defense attorneys seemed to suggest a possible claim of self-defense against an intoxicated Han was intoxicated.
"If I push you, that may not mean much because you are standing here," Pokart said. "If you are standing four or five feet from the platform and plastered, what happens? Han went into the track and got hit by the train. Is that murder? We don't think so."
At the arraignment, the Manhattan district attorney's office said Davis admitted he could have walked away. The judge told the defense pushing someone onto the tracks does not seem like a way to defend oneself.
"The judge seems to assume right away that our client committed some sort of heinous act, desperate act, some crazy act against Mr. Han," Pokart said.
The defense also told the court prosecutors have not turned over a list of all of the witnesses on the platform.
"The only witness we have spoken to in person says, and this is an exact quote, 'The victim came after the suspect,'" Pokart said.
For now, Davis remains behind bars. He is scheduled to be back in court next Friday. That is when his attorneys will ask for bail. They know that is a long shot in such a high-profile case.
Davis is due back in court on January 25 for a bail hearing.