Elevator of Entrapment Examined

Posted by Jen Chung in News: NYC

Now that Chinese food delivery man, Ming Kung Chen, who was trapped in Bronx elevator for three days, is safe, authorities are turning their eyes on the elevators in question. There has been a long history of elevator problems at Tracey Towers, but questions about why security didn’t notice Chen in the elevator via cameras (was Chen only in the blind spot the whole time) or answer any of his alleged calls (did they just ignore them) are being raised. The Daily News put a reporter in one of the elevators, screaming for several minutes: “Someone with their ear pressed against the wall heard only a faint noise. Another person standing a few feet away could hear nothing at all.” The hallway walls are concrete. And the NY Times has a great account of the frenzied police search for Chen, which sounds like something out of Law & Order. One man was somewhat disheveled over a blood-like barbecue stain on his shirt:

Troy Smith, 21, arrived home with a friend and was shocked to find officers wearing helmets and flak jackets in his apartment. “They cuffed me right there,” he said. “I walked in, and detectives were guarding my door. The door was kicked in.” They took him to a precinct and took his stained shirt, he said.

“I had sauce on my shirt from three days ago. They made me write, ‘I’m Troy Smith. You can have my shirt for testing,'” he said, an account confirmed by Chief Collins. “They kept on coming back and saying, ‘Where is the Chinese man and what did you do with him?’ I said, ‘I don’t know.'”

Smith added that he knew Chen from ordering food from the Happy Dragon Chinese restaurant, saying about him, “He’s my friend. He’s cool.”

Mayor Bloomberg even weighed in, saying that revealing Chen’s illegal immigration status as a violation of his executive order. Newsday reminds us that he “signed an executive order in 2003 which bars city agencies from disclosing an individual’s immigration status.” City Councilman Liu put it into perspective, “The larger concern here is the dampening effect this will have on motivating immigrant New Yorkers to seek assistance from and cooperate with the police.” Immigration pretty much said that being trapped in an elevator shouldn’t give anyone an excuse to be an illegal immigrnat, but INS was more focused on capturing illegals with terrorist tendencies.

Photograph of Tracey Towers from Newsday

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