Assaults No Laughing Matter

Train Conductor Deborah Thompson was in complete shock. “Did you really hit me?” she said to a grinning 15-year-old boy standing on the platform of the Livonia Ave. station in East New York. “Yeah,” the kid responded. “So what? You’re not going to do s---.”

The remorseless punk was talking to a solitary conductor on the L Canarsie-to-Chelsea line.  But he could have been talking to society at large, including members of law enforcement. He was confident that he could attack a transit worker and not face serious consequences.

There’s good reason for such brazenness. All too often, district attorneys in the five boroughs don’t prosecute transit abusers for felony assault - even though there’s a get-tough “transit worker assault” law that says they should. Instead, they let assailants off with misdemeanors and violations, ostensibly because the injuries aren’t severe enough for a felony. Thankfully, however, our little genius may be wrong about his fate.

The NYC Law Department, which handles criminal cases involving kids too young to be charged as adults, prosecuted the 15-year-old on a felony assault charge.  He was found guilty in Family Court in December and could be sentenced to a juvenile detention center in late January. If the NYC Law Department can legally take this route so can the district attorney’s who prosecute adults in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island criminal courts.

Thompson was observing the platform on Feb. 25th when the 15-year-old quickly approached her window. “He ran up on me,” she said. “He jumped up with his hand in the air and brought it down on the center of my head like a tomahawk. Then he turned to the side, repositioned himself with a hop and punched me on the left side of my face.” Another teen then slapped Thompson. “They stood there laughing at me like it was comedy night,” she said. She suffered headaches, bruising and severe jaw pain that made it difficult to eat or drink for more than a month.

“I was so disappointed,” she said. “I never had any words or any negative interaction with these children at all. What makes you think you can attack an adult just doing her job?” While she healed, NYPD Transit Bureau detectives investigated.  Thanks in part to images captured by subway surveillance camera, they managed to identify the 15-year old attacker.  Hopefully, the judge presiding over the case will impose a significant punishment, send a message that transit lives matter and ensure that this kid doesn’t get the last laugh.