Man charged with 3 out of 37 incidents of pulling emergency brakes on New York City subway

BOWLING GREEN, Lower Manhattan (WABC) -- A man was charged Friday in connection to at least three of the 37 instances in which the emergency brakes on the subway were pulled.

Police said 23-year-old Isaiah Thompson, of Brooklyn, was accused of pulling the emergency brakes on a northbound 2 train near the 14th Street Station Tuesday. Investigators say he then got off and pulled the brakes on two other trains. He also allegedly exposed himself to straphangers at the 14th Street Station while "subway surfing" a northbound B train on May 16.

The NYPD said it investigated 37 cases of brakes being pulled since February. That set off a chain reaction impacting more than 700 trains. Police do not know if Thompson is connected to all 37 incidents.

He was released after posting $5,000 bail.

Police released surveillance video Thursday of a man riding the back of a subway car wearing a "SWAG DON'T COME CHEAP" shirt and said they quickly identified him as Thompson, thanks to CrimeStoppers tips, fellow officers, and MTA personnel.

Thompson is a familiar face to transit police: He has 17 previous arrests, all in the transit system, including numerous cases of reckless endangerment and assault.

In a July 2018 instance, Thompson was arrested for allegedly hanging onto the outside of a C train, and in November 2018, he allegedly attempted to throw a woman at the Halsey Street station in Brooklyn. He's also accused of slashing a man at the Jay Street-MetroTech station in Downtown Brooklyn.

Police said Thompson was apprehended at his Bedford-Stuyvesant home around 10 p.m. Thursday.

"This is life or death stuff involving really complicated dangerous machinery that could endanger the lives of transit workers just doing their jobs and our customers. It's serious." said MTA Chairman Patrick Foye.

Most incidents have affected the 2 and 5 lines.

"It poses a danger and a risk to people anytime that you are disrupting," said NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea. "So we will investigate it accordingly and we will take it from there."
One motorman said it happened to him in Brooklyn.

"My partner said he went toward the back of the train and saw that the cord was pulled and the safety chains were off, basically stating that someone jumped out of the train," said Enrique Gonzalez, an MTA subway motorman.

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