NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It was a rush hour commute that hundreds of people would like to forget earlier this week, as fearful riders escaped a J Train through an open window after the train came to an unexpected stop.
As CBS2’s Steve Langford reported, the conductor who caused the panic on Wednesday was revealing two days later why her controversial decision was the only choice.
It was an especially frightening and chaotic commute aboard the J Train at the Delancey Street-Essex Street station on the Lower East Side around 9:15 a.m. Wednesday.
The train suddenly stopped as it was leaving the station, and passengers did not know why. It turned out the conductor was the one who was in the most danger.
“When I pulled the cord it was an emergency, I was fearful of my life at that point,” said conductor Kiyya Rivera.
Rivera had been assaulted by an angry passenger. An off-duty police officer has been charged in connection with the incident.
“He had put his forearm out like this and shoved me way back in the car,” Rivera said.
Particularly alarming was the fact that Rivera’s attacker just stood there intimidating her, she said, even after she had pulled the emergency brake cord stopping the train.
“I was very fearful, because I didn’t know if he was actually done with me or not,” Rivera said. “I literally could not leave my cab, because he stood right there. He never left.”
The train was halted when it was partially out of the station, according to the Metropolitan Transit Authority. Panicked commuters tried to escape, but police were able to reach the conductor because she had stopped her train just in time.
“The train still had three cars in the station,” Rivera said. “If I needed help, police could still get on.”
The conductor said it was the first time in nearly four years on the job that she’s been attacked physically. There is, she says, other frequent abuse.
“We get things thrown at us; people spit, you know, use vulgarity,” Rivera said.
That Rivera’s attacker was allegedly an off-duty police officer was all the more unnerving for the MTA employee, who said she is not sure when she will return to work.
“At the time, I didn’t know if he had a weapon or not,” she said. “These are the things we have to think about.”
Off-duty officer Tremel Davis, 33, was arrested and charged with assault. Since he was already on modified duty stemming from a prior off-duty misdemeanor arrest, he was suspended by the NYPD and is no longer reporting for duty.
He was also stripped of his badge and gun.
An MTA spokesman said the emergency brake is generally for use only when someone is caught in a door or dragged by a train. But the MTA said it is understandable why the conductor pulled the cord in this case.