Video captures man’s death during chokehold by fellow New York subway passenger

Police officers and others standing in and around a subway car behind yellow crime scene tape
New York police officers respond Monday to a subway train where a man who appeared to be suffering a mental health episode died after a fellow passenger restrained him with a chokehold.
(Paul Martinka )

A man who witnesses said was yelling and appeared to be suffering a mental health episode in a New York City subway car was killed when another passenger grabbed him from behind and placed him in a chokehold, authorities said.

The man’s cause of death was determined Wednesday to be compression of the neck, or a chokehold, according to Julie Bolcer, spokesperson for the New York City medical examiner’s office. The manner of death was homicide, the medical examiner concluded.

The New York City Police Department is investigating the death, which occurred Monday and was captured in a video taken by Juan Alberto Vázquez and posted to a Facebook page called “Luces de Nueva York.”


In the video, a man with a backpack on is seen with his arms wrapped around another man’s neck as the pair lie on the floor of the F train car. At several points, the man being restrained kicks his legs and tries to free his arms, which a third passenger is pinning down.

After about two minutes, the man’s body appears to go limp. The other two continue to hold him down for nearly a minute before letting go. Someone can be heard advising them to position the man on his side in case he chokes.

A police officer gives chest compressions to a man lying on the floor of a subway train as other officers stand around
Police administer CPR to a man who was left unresponsive after being placed in a chokehold by a fellow subway passenger.
(Paul Martinka / Associated Press)

Vázquez did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In a public post on the Facebook page, Vázquez wrote in Spanish that he was on the subway heading to Yonkers when the man got on.

“I don’t have food, I don’t have anything to drink, I’m fed up,” the man yelled, according to Vázquez, who said the man continued to shout: “I don’t mind going to jail and getting life in prison,” and “I’m ready to die.”

People on the subway car moved away from the man even though he did not seem to want to hurt anyone, Vázquez wrote, and appeared to be suffering from a mental illness.


Another passenger then approached the man from behind, grabbed him by his neck and took him down to the floor, Vázquez wrote. They stayed like that for about 15 minutes as others called the police.

Officers responded to multiple 911 calls of a fight in the Broadway-Lafayette subway station in Manhattan around 2:30 p.m. Monday, the NYPD said. When officers arrived, they found a 30-year-old man unconscious and unresponsive, said Sgt. Sanchez, a public information officer who gave only his last name. The man was transported to Lenox Hill Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

An initial investigation indicated that the victim had been in an verbal argument with a 24-year-old man that turned physical.

The 24-year-old was taken into custody for questioning, Sanchez said. He declined to say whether the man was released or whether anyone had been arrested in connection with the death.

Authorities have not yet released the identity of either man, and the investigation is ongoing.