Agency defends response in hammer attack
By Patrick Walters
PHILADELPHIA — The city's transit agency is coming to the defense of subway passengers criticized on national television for not helping an attack victim earlier this month.
Surveillance video from the Sept. 4 attack shows a man using a hammer to hit a sleeping passenger. It also shows several people walking by as Dewayne Taylor, 20, is beaten to the floor and dragged onto the platform.
Richard Maloney, a spokesman for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, said Tuesday that the passengers did what the transit agency advises in such a situation, whether it's an attack, a fire or a health emergency.
"We can't recommend that private citizens personally and physically intervene in a brutal attack," said Maloney.
Last week, city police Commissioner Charles Ramsey went on the NBC show "Today" and criticized the passengers for failing to intervene.
"They better pray they're never a victim, because if someone was attacking them that way they would certainly hope someone would step forward and help, and it starts with stepping forward and doing something yourself," Ramsey had said.
But Maloney said Tuesday that it was unfair to ask an average citizen to "jump in there like Superman or Arnold Schwarzenegger."
Passengers did go to Taylor's aid when he got back on the train.
A person pulled an emergency lever that notified the train operator, who contacted police that responded in about 6 minutes. A woman escorted Taylor to the hospital, where he was treated for head and neck injuries.
Not all citizens are physically able to confront a violent attacker, Maloney said.
"In terms of personal intervening, that's a matter of personal choice," he said.
Police have charged Thomas Scantling, 26, of Philadelphia, with attempted murder, aggravated assault and related charges. A judge also has ordered a psychiatric exam.
A police spokeswoman said Ramsey would not be available to comment Tuesday.
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