Widow of Brooklyn subway shooting victim sues MTA for $28 million over leaked crime scene photos

Brooklyn subway shooting scene
Police on the scene of the shooting death of Richard Henderson on Jan. 14.
File photo/Lloyd Mitchell

The widow of a man fatally shot on a Brooklyn subway train in January is suing the MTA for $28.5 million, claiming she was caused emotional distress after MTA employees took photos of her husband’s bloodied body and publicly disseminated them.

Jakeba Dockery, the widow of Richard Henderson, filed a notice of claim on March 7 announcing her intention to sue the transit agency, alleging an MTA employee took photos of her husband as he lay in a pool of blood on a No. 3 train at Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, sending it along to friends who disseminated the images on social media.

Henderson, 45, was fatally shot aboard the 3 train on the evening of Jan. 14, after trying to break up a fight over loud music between his killer and another man, Dockery’s lawyers said. After that, Henderson was shot twice, once in the back and once in the shoulder; he was rushed by first responders to Kings County Hospital but could not be saved and was pronounced dead. His killer remains on the loose.

Dockery’s lawyers, Sanford Rubenstein and Mark Shirian, say that before those first responders could reach Henderson, though, an MTA employee snapped pictures of Henderson as he was still alive and laying in a pool of blood.

Just a day after the incident, a friend told Dockery the images were being widely disseminated on social media and through text channels, and the images were even sent to members of the Henderson family, including Dockery.

Because of the pictures, Dockery “sustained severe permanent personal injuries and emotional distress” and was deprived of her right “to control the physical remains, memory, and death images of her deceased husband.” For that, she is seeking $28.5 million from the MTA.

Rubenstein and Shirian believe they have a strong precedent for a judgment in Dockery’s favor: Vanessa Bryant, the widow of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, settled for $28.8 million last year with Los Angeles County, California after emergency responders took and disseminated pictures at the site where Kobe, their daughter Gianna, and 7 others were killed in a helicopter crash in 2020.

“Just like the family of the late Kobe Bryant was entitled to damages…the family of Richard Henderson , a real life hero here in New York City is entitled to damages from the appropriate government agency for the unauthorized release and publication by employees of grisly photos of him at death’s door,” Rubenstein and Shirian said in a statement.

The MTA declined to comment on pending litigation.

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