A Bronx resident who beat a woman with a cane at the W. 116 St. & Lenox Ave. subway station has been indicted for the September 1 attack, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
Norton Blake, 43, was hit with three counts of assault (or attempted assault) by Manhattan prosectors on October 3.
The incident began around 3:19 a.m., when 60 year-old Laurell Reynolds dropped her walker while ascending the stairs out of the subway station, the DA’s office said. She was nearby Blake. An argument about the tumbling walker followed between the two of them, leading to him reportedly undoing his belt and lashing her with it. According to the D.A., shortly after Reynolds lifted up a cane to defend herself from the belt’s blows, Blake allegedly snatched it from her and proceeded to beat her with the object. He reportedly managed to strike her an astounding fifty times with the cane, ultimately resulting in a two-week hospital stay for Reynolds.
The back end of the assault, which took place in plain sight on the subway platform, was captured on bystander video by an MTA worker and reported to rail control. It then spread widely on social media. It depicts a powerless Reynolds attempting to avoid ceaseless blows. Police reportedly declined to arrest Blake at the scene, citing conflicting accounts. Their response is under review.
The D.A. notes that Blake was eventually arrested for the incident a few days later. The New York Post reported that he made pronouncements about Armageddon during his perp walk, including that he “was a man of the Lord” and that “judgement is coming upon the face of the Earth!”
Blake’s defense attorney, Paul D’Emilia, gave a radically different account of his client’s actions that day to Straus News. “He was attempting to help [Reynolds], actually. She was struggling on the steps, and he was helping her down the steps,” D’Emilia claims. He further argued that the public only got a “partial” portrait of the incident from the video, and that Reynolds was the one that had “turned on” Blake. In fact, D’Emila claims that the cane belonged to Blake, and that he was the actual victim of its theft and its use as a weapon. “My client is disabled,” D’Emilia offered, while also insinuating that Reynolds had unverifiable struggles with mental illness and substance abuse that had made her violent.
D’Emilia clarified that Blake had confessed to suffering from mental illness himself, and that “he definitely needs medication and some care.”
As of now, Manhattan law enforcement appears to disagree. In a statement accompanying the indictment–in which Norton Blake is identified as “Blake Norton,” which D’Emilio describes as a mix-up–District Attorney Alvin Bragg declared that the middle-aged man “needlessly resorted to violence when he allegedly assaulted a subway rider dozens of times. The alleged acts reflect the serious and excessive nature of the assault, as the victim laid helplessly on the ground. Our prosecutors are working diligently to hold accountable anyone who threatens the safety of subway riders.”