Photo of sub­way death crit­i­cized

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - Byv­er­ena Dobnik new york Times

NEW YORK — Po­lice ques­tioned a sus­pect Tues­day in the death of a sub­way rider pushed onto the tracks and pho­tographed while he was still alive — an im­age of des­per­a­tion that drew vir­u­lent crit­i­cism af­ter it ap­peared on the front page of the New York Post.

New York Po­lice De­part­ment spokesman Paul Browne said in­ves­ti­ga­tors re­cov­ered se­cu­rity video show­ing a man fit­ting the de­scrip­tion of the as­sailant work­ing with street ven­dors near Rock­e­feller Cen­ter. Wit­nesses told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that they saw the sus­pect talk­ing to him­self be­fore ap­proach­ing the vic­tim, get­ting into an al­ter­ca­tion with him and push­ing him into the train’s path.

Po­lice took the man into cus­tody Tues­day, but he hasn’t yet been charged.

Ki-Suck Han, 58, of Queens, died shortly af­ter be­ing hit Mon­day. Po­lice said he tried to climb a few feet to safety but got trapped be­tween the train and the plat­form’s edge.

Emo­tional ques­tions arose Tues­day over the pho­to­graph of the help­less man stand­ing be­fore an on­com­ing train at the Times Square sta­tion.

The mo­ral is­sue among pro­fes­sional pho­to­jour­nal­ists in such sit­u­a­tions is “to doc­u­ment or to as­sist,” said Kenny Irby, an ex­pert in the ethics of vis­ual jour­nal­ism at the Poyn­ter In­sti­tute, a Florida-based non­profit jour­nal­ism school.

He said that’s the choice pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­phers of­ten face in the sec­onds be­fore a fa­tal­ity.

Irby spoke Tues­day, a day af­ter the news­pa­per pub­lished the photo of Han des­per­ately look­ing at the train, un­able to climb off the tracks in time. It was shot for the Post by free­lance pho­tog­ra­pher R. Umar Ab­basi.

Com­men­tary posted on so­cial me­dia and in news broad­casts came down to one unan­swered ques­tion: Why didn’t Ab­basi help Han?

But Irby said it’s not that sim­ple.

“What was done was not nec­es­sar­ily un­eth­i­cal,” Irby said. “It de­pends on the in­di­vid­ual at the time of ac­tion.”

It de­pends, he said, on whether the pho­tog­ra­pher was strong enough to lift the man, or close enough. Ab­basi said he got the shot while run­ning to the scene and fir­ing off his cam­era in hopes the flash would at­tract the at­ten­tion of the train con­duc­tor, the Post re­ported.

“So there was an at­tempt to help,” said Irby, who blames Post edi­tors “for the out­cry” be­cause they made the de­ci­sion to pub­lish the im­age.

The Post didn’t im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment and didn’t im­me­di­ately make Ab­basi avail­able. His num­ber isn’t listed in New York area tele­phone di­rec­to­ries.

An­other pro­fes­sional re­luc­tant to reach con­clu­sions was veteran pho­tog­ra­pher John Long of the Na­tional Press Pho­tog­ra­phers As­so­ci­a­tion, where he is chair­man of the ethics com­mit­tee.

“I can­not judge the man,” he said. “I don’t know how far away he was; I don’t know if he could’ve done any­thing.”

How­ever, both Long and Irby said that as a pho­tog­ra­pher, “you are morally obliged to help” — if pos­si­ble, rather than take a pic­ture.

Added Irby, “I would ar­gue that you’re a hu­man be­ing be­fore you’re a jour­nal­ist.”

ByAdam Liptak WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Tues­day that peo­ple whose prop­erty was dam­aged by in­ter­mit­tent flood­ing caused by the government may seek com­pen­sa­tion. The de­ci­sion, which was unan­i­mous, re­versed a lower court rul­ing that had barred claims for flood dam­age un­less the flood­ing was “per­ma­nent or in­evitably re­cur­ring.”

The case arose from the ac­tiv­i­ties of the Army Corps of Engi­neers, which pe­ri­od­i­cally flooded 23,000 acres along the banks of the Black River in north­east­ern Arkansas. The Arkansas Game and Fish Com­mis­sion man­aged the land, har­vest­ing tim­ber and op­er­at­ing a wildlife and hunt­ing pre­serve.

From 1993 to 2000, in re­sponse to re­quests from farm­ers, the corps changed its pat­tern of re­leas­ing water from the Clear­wa­ter Dam, which is 115 miles up­stream from the com­mis­sion’s land. The flood­ing de­stroyed tim­ber and al­tered the char­ac­ter of the ter­rain, re­quir­ing ex­pen­sive recla­ma­tion ef­forts.

The com­mis­sion sued the fed­eral government un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion’s tak­ings clause, which says that prop­erty can­not “be taken for pub­lic use, with­out just com­pen­sa­tion.” A lower court awarded the com­mis­sion $5.7 mil­lion.

The U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the Fed­eral Cir­cuit re­versed that de­ci­sion, say­ing that the tak­ings clause did not cover dam­age from such in­ter­mit­tent flood­ing. Jus­tice Ruth Bader Gins­burg ac­knowl­edged that stray com­ments in ear­lier Supreme Court de­ci­sions pro­vided some sup­port for that view.

But she said that “no magic for­mula en­ables a court to judge, in ev­ery case, whether a given government in­ter­fer­ence with prop­erty is a tak­ing.”

“No de­ci­sion of this court,” she con­tin­ued, “au­tho­rizes a blan­ket tem­po­rary-flood­ing ex­cep­tion to our tak­ings clause ju­rispru­dence, and we de­cline to cre­ate such an ex­cep­tion in this case.”

In gen­eral, she said, two things are clear: Per­ma­nent phys­i­cal oc­cu­pa­tion of prop­erty by the government and reg­u­la­tions that for­ever make all valu­able uses of land im­pos­si­ble are tak­ings re­quir­ing com­pen­sa­tion. In the con­text of flood­ing, she went on, a dam that per­ma­nently sub­merged a plain­tiff’s land was a tak­ing, and so was dam­age caused by sea­son­ally re­cur­ring flood­ing.

Be­yond that, Gins­burg wrote, things get murkier, re­quir­ing case-by-case judg­ment. The length of the government’s in­ter­fer­ence with pri­vate prop­erty mat­ters, she said. So does “the de­gree to which the in­va­sion is in­tended or is the fore­see­able re­sult of au­tho­rized government ac­tion.”

“So, too,” she went on, quot­ing from an ear­lier de­ci­sion, “are the char­ac­ter of the land at is­sue and the owner’s ‘rea­son­able in­vest­ment-backed ex­pec­ta­tion’ re­gard­ing the land’s use.” Fi­nally, “sever­ity of the in­ter­fer­ence fig­ures in the cal­cu­lus as well.”

Gins­burg said the court would not ad­dress a new dis­tinc­tion pro­posed by the fed­eral government when the case was ar­gued in Oc­to­ber: that down­stream flood­ing should never count as a tak­ing, whether per­ma­nent or tem­po­rary. That ques­tion, along with whether Arkansas law has a role to play in the anal­y­sis, should be con­sid­ered in fur­ther pro­ceed­ings be­fore the ap­peals court, she wrote.

Jus­tice Elena Ka­gan was dis­qual­i­fied from the case, Arkansas Game and Fish Com­mis­sion v. United States, pre­sum­ably be­cause she had worked on it as so­lic­i­tor gen­eral.

Gins­burg wrote that courts should be ju­di­cious in al­low­ing tak­ings claims for flood dam­age: “To re­ject a cat­e­gor­i­cal bar to tem­po­rary-flood­ing tak­ings claims is scarcely to credit all, or even many, such claims.”

Mark lennihan / ap

Po­lice stand out­side a New York sub­way sta­tion where KiSuck Han was killed af­ter be­ing pushed into the path of a train Mon­day. A photo of the Han on the tracks be­fore be­ing killed ran in the New York Post.

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