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The Accused CTA Subway Pusher Has Pleaded Not Guilty

By Stephen Gossett in News on Oct 30, 2017 7:40PM

Chad Estep / Chicago Police Department
The man who authorities believe is responsible for shoving a stranger onto the CTA subway tracks at a downtown Loop station earlier this year has pleaded not guilty. Chad Estep, 34, of Wicker Park, is charged with first-degree attempted murder and felony counts of aggravated battery.

Estep stayed silent during a hearing on Monday as his lawyer, Vadim Glozman, entered his client's plea, according to the Tribune and the Sun-Times.

Police and prosecutors say Estep—who reportedly received his Ph.D. in neuroscience from Northwestern University earlier this year—shoved commuter shoved Ben Benedict, 47, off the platform at the Washington Blue Line station on Aug. 1, at around 11:30 p.m. Benedict said he missed hitting the third rail by a mere foot. When the victim tried climb up to safety, the pusher blocked his way up to the platform, Benedict told the Tribune, who first reported the story, before an arrest was made or an alert was issued.

Estep also attempted to obstruct commuters who came to Benedict's aid, prosecutors said at a previous hearing. They were able to circle the attacker and Benedict eventually reached the platform.

Estep was freed on bond on Oct. 11 after his wife paid the required fee of 10 percent of his $200,000 bond.

Prosecutors reportedly said at the earlier bond hearing that Estep looked intoxicated on CTA surveillance video, but did not offer an explicit motive. The two men did not know each other, prosecutors said.

The Tribune first reported the disturbing incident in September. The Chicago Police Department did not at first release photos of the attacker, which police had pulled from CTA surveillance video. (It's not out of the ordinary for CPD to release photos of suspects believed to be responsible for violent incidents on the CTA.) The police department eventually released photos of the suspect in the wake of the Tribune's story.