Freelance photographer R. Umar Abbasi is speaking out after taking a picture of a man who died after he was hit by a subway train in New York City Monday.
Abbasi faced criticism for his picture, which was taken of Ki Suk Han just moments before he was stuck and killed by the train after reportedly being pushed onto the tracks. The New York Post faced even more criticism for putting the picture on its cover with the headline “Pushed on the subway track, this man is about to die.”
Speaking in a first-person story in the New York Post and in an interview with The New York Times, Abbasi said that he was taking the photos in order to use his flash to alert the train driver, not because he wanted to take a picture.
“I just started running. I had my camera up — it wasn’t even set to the right settings — and I just kept shooting and flashing, hoping the train driver would see something and be able to stop,” Abbasi writes in the New York Post.
Speaking with the Times, he said that reaction to his actions was not fair. “I’m being unfairly beaten up in the press,” he said.
Abbasi said he was wearing a backpack with 20 pounds of camera gear and was on his way back from an assignment when he saw the man fall onto the tracks.
“If I had reached him in time, I would have pulled him up,” Abbasi said.
He also said he was not part of the decision to publish the photos in the Post on Tuesday. Rather, he left his camera memory card containing the pictures at the newspaper office.
“Every time I close my eyes, I see the image of death,” he said. “I don’t care about a photograph.”
Police say they have a man in custody after Ki’s death, but they have yet to lay charges.
Meanwhile, Abbasi is facing renewed criticism for the fact that he is demanding payment for an interview: “Reached by CNN, Abbasi was adamant that he would talk to the network only for pay,” says CNN.