David Robinson, 53, appeared in court a day after his arrest on manslaughter charges in the death of Htwe Than Than. A request for comment was sent to his defense attorney.
According to authorities, the victim was walking up some steps out of the Canal Street subway station in Chinatown with her 22-year-old son on July 17 when Robinson grabbed the son's backpack, propelling both son and mother down the stairs. She was in a coma for several days before succumbing to her injuries.
Robinson told police he became angry "because he believed the man had thrown garbage at him," according to a criminal complaint. He claimed the 22-year-old man grabbed onto his mother as he tumbled backward, causing her to fall as well.
"The defendant heard a crack when the mother's head struck the ground," the complaint says.
The NYPD publicly identified Robinson as a suspect later that month.
The assault happened amid a wave of concern about crime, particularly in subways, in the nation's most populous city. Crime spiked in the subway system as ridership plunged during the early part of the coronavirus pandemic.
"This was a terrible crime over the summer, and our hearts continue to go out to the victim’s family," Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesperson Tim Minton said in a statement Saturday.
Noting that the transit agency now has security cameras in every station, he said that "anyone who preys on transit riders can expect to be identified and face justice."
With the Associated Press.