It’s a heartbreaking story that’s grown all too common in this city: The grandma of the homeless man charged with shoving a straphanger onto Brooklyn subway tracks says she tried for years to get him help — but the system failed at every turn.
Police say the victim, 29, was on a 4 train with his girlfriend around 11:30 a.m. Sunday when Michael Medlock, 33, woke up and started screaming. When the couple got off at Atlantic Avenue, he followed and allegedly shoved the man onto the tracks.
Medlock has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. He’s been living on the streets since management banned him from his grandmother’s East New York apartment building.
“I have been having problems with him since the third grade,” Medlock’s grandmother Athense told The Post. “I’m angry with the system. I tried and tried to get help for him. They said if he is not a danger to himself, there is nothing they can do.” One 311 operator told her he just needed detox. Officials refused to keep him in the hospital when he was taken there two weeks ago.
The footage of the subway shove puts Athense in tears. “I’m sorry he hurt someone,” she said. “He is not a bad person. He needs help.” Thousands of similar people across town need help — but the system won’t provide it. Family members often try to get action before their loved ones hurt someone, only to learn that officials refuse to act until physical harm’s been done.
Justin Pena, 23, is accused of another recent subway shove. Months ago, law enforcement told one of his past victims he’d soon be back out on the streets and attack again. Pena has been in and out of Bellevue, living with his mother and on the streets in between.
“Society did not do nothing for my son,” Angela Pena lamented to The Post, saying he didn’t get the help he needed to stay on meds for bipolar disorder. “Help my son, please!” she begged. “If you help him, he would not get in trouble.”
ThriveNYC, the de Blasio mental-health initiative, is a $1.25 billion boondoggle of “wellness” programs that avoid the hardest cases, the estimated 90,000 untreated seriously mentally ill who cycle in and out of shelters, the streets, hospitals and jails.
These are New York City’s most desperately needy denizens. Yet the mayor who claims to care most about “social justice” does less for them than the predecessors he condemned as heartless.