A man has been indicted in Manhattan on charges that he beat a 60-year-old woman with a cane inside a Harlem subway station last month.
Norton Blake, 43, has been charged with three counts of assault and attempted assault, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors say Blake and the woman were on the stairs at the West 116th Street and Lenox Avenue subway station in Harlem around 3:20 a.m. on Sept. 1 when the woman’s walker began to fall down the stairs and an argument ensued. Blake’s attorney said his client was trying to help the woman carry her walker and that it’s unclear why the two started to argue.
At some point, according to the Manhattan district attorney’s office, Blake took off his belt and used it to hit the woman. In an interview with police after his arrest, Blake said the woman threw a can of soup at him, and that he took off his belt to defend himself. Then, prosecutors say, she hit the man back with a cane.
The district attorney’s office said Blake grabbed the cane out of the woman’s hand and struck her with it more than 50 times. Prosecutors said he also punched and kicked her. A video of the incident filmed by an MTA worker and obtained by the New York Post shows the woman lying on the ground with her hands and legs up as a man hits her repeatedly. It then shows him yelling as the woman lies motionless on the ground.
The MTA worker who filmed the incident called the Rail Control Center, and police responded to the scene but did not arrest the man, the New York Post reported. Blake was arrested five days later. The police response is under internal review, according to the NYPD.
The woman spent two weeks in the hospital with bruises and swelling, according to the DA’s office, but has since been released. She did not respond to a request for comment.
Blake is being held on $75,000 cash bail or $100,000 bond at the Vernon C. Bain floating jail off Hunts Point in the Bronx, according to Department of Correction records. His attorney, Paul D’Emilia, said he has asked for a judge to lower the bail and is awaiting a response.
He said the cane was Blake’s and that the woman hit him with it first.
Blake has had mental health and substance abuse issues in the past, his attorney said, but has been living on his own for the past four-and-a-half years and “doing great.” D’Emilia also said his client collects bottles and cans to supplement his public assistance income.
“He does have a very supportive family,” D’Emilia said. “We hope to resolve this.”