Homeless man charged in 3 random attacks in Manhattan released

GREENWICH VILLAGE, Manhattan (WABC) -- A homeless man who is accused in several random attacks in Manhattan and who has skipped past court appearances has been freed with supervised release under New York's new bail reform guidelines.

Police say 26-year-old Eugene Webb is the man who repeatedly punched the 23-year-old woman after she exited the 1 train station at West Houston and Varick Street in Greenwich Village just after 6 a.m. Wednesday.

He was arrested after being recognized by a passerby on the street Thursday, and in addition to prior arrests for assaulting and harassing women, he was immediately linked to another similar incident that happened Wednesday night in which a 29-year-old woman was punched at East 42nd Street and Park Avenue.

He is reportedly known to wander the streets of Greenwich Village and has at least five prior arrests, including hitting a 35-year-old woman in the face with a closed fist on September 3, 2019, and grabbing a 55-year-old woman's backside, exposing himself and making a lewd gesture in October of 2017.

In the earlier incident Wednesday, the victim was punched in the face multiple times and pushed to the ground.

She attempted to flee, police said, when the suspect pushed her into a yellow cab that stopped on the street before he fled the scene.

The victim said the attack was unprovoked and that she did not know the assailant.

She was bruised and lost two teeth, and she was taken to Beth Israel Medical Center for treatment.

Webb is now facing several counts of misdemeanor assault, which is included in the list of charges that do not allow for bail.

Prosecutors asked that bail be set at $10,000, citing Webb's criminal history and previous missed court appearance, but the judge released Webb on supervised release.

He is expected to report to his case worker in the near future, and he is due back in court on February 25.

"We have to keep the public safe," former NYPD Chief Robert Boyce and current ABC News consultant said. "Mr. Webb is a danger to the public. He just can't keep going in and out of the system. You have turnstile justice."

Boyce says these are some of the concerns shared by law enforcement and some prosecutors with the new reforms.

"People are at risk, and police cannot be everywhere," he said. "Someone going randomly strike someone, knock out a tooth, is unacceptable in our city. We are not going to let that happen."

While there is now talk of making changes to the new laws, others believe there should be no rush to judgement.

"Before bail reform, people sat and languished in jail," Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said. "They could not got to work to pay their bills. They would also lose their jobs. They could not go to school to continue their education. Their family bonds were damaged."

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