After police in Brooklyn arrested Derek Smith, 56, for assaulting a woman on a train, his lawyer claimed the incident was entirely fabricated.
Police arrested Smith on Saturday after Sam Saia, a Brooklyn woman, posted on social media that Smith had attacked her in a subway Thursday morning after she chastised him for ‘manspreading,’ or spreading his legs and preventing her from fully sitting in her seat beside him, according to NBC. An anonymous report allegedly tipped police off to Smith’s location.
Saia claimed that Smith first responded to her request for more space with a profanity-laced sentence before he elbowed her in the mouth, splitting her lip open and leaving her bloody.
A video Saia posted on Facebook that allegedly began a minute or so after the incident occurred shows bystander Victor Conde grabbing Smith by the arm and demanding that he get off at the next station because he “just f***ing hit a lady.”
“Look at her mouth, she’s bleeding,” Conde told Smith. Smith apologized in the video to Conde, and apologized again to Saia at the end of the video when he arrived at the next stop. Saia responded “F*** you. Oh my God, go, get off the train,” in the video.
Saia also posted a photo of her split lip on social media, something that LegalHelpline.co.uk advises against, and the video showed images of Saia with blood in her mouth. She wrote in a Facebook post that multiple people came to her aid because her lip was “gushing blood” in the aftermath of the incident.
Despite the video evidence, however, Smith’s lawyer, Sarah Siegler, claimed Sunday during his arraignment that the entire incident had been fabricated, according to the New York Post. Siegler works with Lawyer Aid, a provision offered to people unable to afford legal representation.
The Brooklyn Criminal Court decided Sunday to hold Smith on a $5,000 bond and charge him with assault, harassment, and menacing behavior. Siegler did not enter a plea on Smith’s behalf.
Conde told The Washington Post that he stepped into action from the other side of the car because nobody else did, adding that two men who were sitting across from Saia did not react to the incident.
Saia said she tried to go to the 17th precinct stationhouse immediately after the incident to file a report, but officers instead redirected her to another precinct, according to the New York Daily News, despite policy that dictates any officer should take crime reports immediately when victims come in. Saia said she posted on social media after she was rebuffed multiple times by police, hoping the post would go viral.