New York City police say a young man from Queens died after he flipped over a subway turnstile and fell headfirst onto the concrete. The man has been identified as Christopher De La Cruz, 28. Police say they believe De La Cruz broke his neck when he fell, according to sources cited by the New York Daily News and the Forest Hills Post.
De La Cruz Attemped to Jump Over the Turnstile Multiple Times, Per Surveillance Video
De La Cruz entered the Forest Hills-71st Avenue subway station before 6:45 a.m. on Sunday, January 2, per the New York Post. Forest Hills is a residential neighborhood in Queens, New York.
Surveillance video obtained by the New York Daily News shows De La Cruz, carrying a backpack, trying to get over the turnstile multiple times. In the first attempt, he loses his balance and stumbles. He is seen on his knees, hunched over the turnstile bar.
He then gets up and moves to a different lane. De La Cruz tries to hop over the turnstile at least four times but can’t seem to get his legs over the top of the bar. The Daily News described De La Cruz as appearing “unsteady on his feet.”
The newspaper reports that De La Cruz eventually “loses control” and hits the bar with his waist. This causes “him to flip over and land on his back on the concrete floor.” The Daily News did NOT include this moment on the published video; the footage fades to black before this happens.
De La Cruz Was Pronounced Dead at the Scene & Officials Ordered an Autopsy
De La Cruz fell headfirst onto the concrete. According to the Forest Hills Post, police believe De La Cruz broke his neck on impact.
The newspaper reports police officers found De La Cruz “unresponsive” when they got to the subway station. Emergency medical responders declared him dead at the scene.
A medical examiner will conduct an autopsy to verify the cause of death, the Daily News reported.
According to the Daily News, police said De La Cruz lived in East Elmhurst. East Elmhurst is located in the northern section of Queens, a few miles away from the subway stop at Forest Hills-71st Avenue.
A search of online records brings up a 28-year-old Christopher De La Cruz with an East Elmhurst address, but little else. There are no linked social media profiles and no citations listed.
The Previous Manhattan District Attorney Stopped Prosecuting Turnstile Jumping in 2018 But the Queens DA Didn’t Make the Same Promise
A single ride on the New York subway system is $2.75. According to MTA data cited by the New York Post, an estimated 13% of subway riders jumped the turnstile and did not pay from July to September of 2020, resulting in approximately $38 million in lost revenue.
Failing to pay for a subway ride can lead to an arrest if a police officer witnesses it. DNAinfo reported in 2017 that according to public records, about 89% of people arrested for jumping turnstiles that year were Black or Latino. About 40% of the arrests happened in Manhattan, with about 9% taking place in Queens.
The following year, then-Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance announced that his office would stop prosecuting these cases, Politico reported at the time. However, as the Queens Chronicle reported in May 2018, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown did not make the same promise. A spokesperson told the newspaper at the time, “We will monitor the new policy in Manhattan but we will continue to prosecute those cases that the NYPD brings us in Queens until we see a sound reason not to.”