Prosecutors have decided not to file criminal charges against a man filmed dragging an unconscious passenger off a Blue Line train in Long Beach earlier this month.
The video, which shows bystanders accusing the man of dumping the other passenger to speed up his commute, sparked outrage and accusations of racism. But the man told investigators he’d actually been trying to get help, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.
“It appeared (the) suspect intended to remove the victim from the moving train to the platform where he would be able to get help from paramedics,” prosecutors wrote in a document justifying their decision not to file charges.
The man is a 71-year-old from Long Beach with no criminal background, according to authorities. He also told investigators he is a former Army medic, prosecutors wrote. The Post is not naming the man because he was not arrested or charged with a crime.
Prosecutors revealed Friday that they originally considered charging him with felony assault but rejected the idea on Aug. 20 after interviewing him, talking with the man he dragged and watching security camera video from the train.
The Long Beach City Prosecutor also decided against filing a misdemeanor battery charge, citing insufficient evidence.
The YouTube video that sparked the investigation was filmed on a train arriving at the Blue Line’s Willow Station platform on Aug. 1. Soon after it was posted online and broadcast by local TV stations, Long Beach police said they were investigating to “to determine if any criminal negligence occurred.”
The video begins with the unconscious man being yanked off the train by a man in a suit. In the process, the unconscious man’s pants fall down, exposing him.
“Can somebody please hold the door,” the man in the suit says after he pulls up the other man’s pants and returns to the train car to toss out what appear to be some of the other man’s clothes and belongings.
From behind the camera, the videographer—who goes by the name Billion—confronts the man in the suit, saying he dumped the other passenger to speed up his own commute.
“There’s a lot of people on this train who want to get home,” the man in the suit responds.
But prosecutors wrote that the YouTube video only showed part of the story:
Security camera video from the train car shows the unconscious man shortly before he passed out. In the footage, he vomits and then asks another passenger to call 911 before getting up, walking to the door and lying down, according to the document.
The man in the suit then asks other passengers for help getting him off the train, according to prosecutors.
“It’s gonna hold up the train for everybody,” he reportedly says.
He then grabs the unconscious man under his arms and tries to pull him onto the platform, but nobody helps and the train’s doors close, according to prosecutors.
“Look guys, I don’t understand. Grab his material. Next stop we’ll get him out; paramedics will come,” the man in the suit reportedly says before a train announcement—including the next stop near Long Beach Memorial Medical Center—drowns him out.
The other passengers, who’d already called 911 and hit the train’s emergency stop buttons, eventually become irate at the man in the suit, according to prosecutors.
In the six-minute YouTube video, Billion tells him that that nobody else on the train minded waiting for paramedics. Billion then alleges that because the man is white, he thought he could get away with dumping the other passenger.
After dragging the unconscious man out, the man in the suit sits quietly on the train through most of the YouTube video before going back onto the platform where he kneels next to the unconscious man and checks his pulse.
“I thought the man was drunk,” he says. A few moments later, he touches the unconscious man’s face and then pats his cheek.
“Bro, are you responsive?” he says. “OK, he needs paramedics.”
He later told investigators he realized the unconscious passenger may be having a medical issue after seeing a hospital band and decided to put him on the platform in case the train didn’t hold for paramedics at the next station, according to prosecutors.
Investigators spoke to the unconscious man after he’d recovered and been discharged from the hospital.
He told them he was “very upset” that he’d been videotaped and the footage was now floating around the internet, prosecutors wrote. He also reportedly told them that the person who dragged him off the train should be in jail.
Jeremiah Dobruck is the breaking news editor of the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @jeremiahdobruck on Twitter.
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