A man faces serious charges following an altercation with a boy with special needs on a subway car, according to local sources. New York police have confirmed the arrest of a 40-year-old man in an alleged assault against an 8-year-old autistic boy. This has led many to question the efficacy of the Thrive NYC mental health initiative aimed at curbing violent behavior by mentally ill people. So far a court date has not been announced, and it is unclear if the man has criminal defense representation in place.
According to the report, the 8-year-old and his mother were on a No. 3 train around 8:40 p.m. the night of Feb. 25 when the man allegedly approached them. Witnesses say there were no words exchanged between the mother and son and the older man. As the train was pulling into the station, the man allegedly struck the boy in the head. The boy was taken to the hospital with swelling believed to have been caused by the attack.
Police arrested him the following night and charged him with assault and acting in a manner injurious to a child. New York City police say the man is often seen in the area of the station, and has been reported to regularly act in an erratic and disturbed manner. No specific cause for his behavior was explicitly called out in the report, but it was alluded to that the man is mentally ill.
Of course, an assault on a child is still a serious crime, but care must be taken in prosecuting such a case in criminal court. The man's criminal defense representation will no doubt wish to take into consideration whatever mental state the man was in at the time of the alleged attack to determine whether he can be reasonably held accountable for his actions. Cases where the mental competence of the defendant is at issue are complex and typically require defense attorneys well-versed in this aspect of the criminal law.