LOWER MANHATTAN, New York (WABC) --The man accused of kicking a pregnant woman in the stomach on the subway in Lower Manhattan appeared in court Friday and was released on $7,500 bail.
Michael Lee, 41, was arraigned on attempted assault and reckless endangerment charges. He exited court without comment, though he has claimed from the beginning he was unaware the woman was pregnant.
His defense attorney also had no comment, though Lee was visibly upset and was seen wiping away tears.
The incident happened Thursday morning on a northbound No. 4 train at the Bowling Green station.
The 28-year-old victim is said to be just two weeks from her due date, and what began with the usual morning rush hour somehow degenerated into a physical attack. Authorities say she was on the train, holding onto the pole when the suspect got on and bumped into her.
"Most of the passengers (said), 'What's wrong with you? Are you crazy? She's pregnant!'" a witness named Janice said.
Janice said it looked like Lee didn't see the woman at first, so she gently pushed him away, asking for space.
"He pushes her hand away, and he ends up hitting her," she said. "He ends up hitting her arm or chest. I think this is where she snapped, she ends up holding on to his collar, his back is still facing her, so once she has her hands on his collar, this is where she turns around and she ends, her hands end up on his head."
Janice said things then spiraled. With Lee now facing the woman, backing up and trying to get away from her, she held on to him, causing him to fall. She continued holding him, now on top of him.
"So when she's hunched over him, this is when he kicks her," Janice said. "And the kick, since she's over him diagonally, the kick lands on her stomach, right on the bottom of her belly."
Janice says a good Samaritan immediately jumped in, shielding her. Lee then got up off the floor and told fellow riders he did not know she was pregnant.
"Even though her jacket was zipped up, you can tell she was pregnant," Janice said. "Her belly popped out."
Thankfully, both the mother and baby are said to be fine. Lee's attorney argued he was defending himself after the woman attacked first, and witnesses seemed to back up his claim that it was the woman who first grabbed him from behind and knocked him down.
The details are still being hashed out, and the investigation is ongoing.