Police arrest man believed to have pulled emergency brakes on NYC subways

Posted at 2:12 PM, May 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-25 17:12:50-04

NEW YORK (AP) — Police have made an arrest in a mystery that's been stopping New Yorkers in their tracks for months: a wave of subway trains grinding to a halt because someone pulled the emergency brake.

Isaiah Thompson, 23, of Brooklyn, was arrested late Thursday after police publicized video of a man they say pulled the emergency brake on a train in Manhattan during the Tuesday evening rush hour.

Thompson was awaiting arraignment Friday on charges related to the Tuesday incident. He's also accused of committing a lewd act in the subway.

Police are investigating whether he's behind about 40 other brake-pulling incidents that have cascaded into hundreds of delayed trains — and thousands of frustrated commuters — since February. Police on Thursday released images and video of a man they say rode on the outside of a car for several stops before entering the car and pulling its emergency brake and fleeing.

Chief Edward Delatorre, of the NYPD's transit division, said police believe Thompson is responsible for "several incidents where he endangered subway riders (and) disrupted passenger train service."

Thompson's record includes more than a dozen arrests, mostly for subway-related incidents. Police say he's claimed to get a thrill out of "subway surfing" and enjoys causing havoc in the transit system.

It wasn't clear if Thompson had a lawyer who could comment on his behalf.

Police believe someone has been using a key to get into an unoccupied motorman car and then engage the emergency brake.

"Let this be a reminder that anyone who intentionally disrupts the subway, endangering our employees and customers, will be sought by the police and caught," Transit Authority President Andy Byford said in a statement Friday.

Byford said whoever is responsible for the series of brake-pulling incidents "should face a lengthy prison term and the strictest possible penalties." He's been pushing to ban people who repeatedly commit offenses in the subway.

The video of Tuesday's incident involved a man police say rode on the outside of a northbound 2 train for several stops before entering the car, pulling its emergency brake and fleeing.

The man was wearing a Nike T-shirt with the slogan: "Swag Don't Come Cheap."