At 2:50 a.m. on September 15, 1983, artist Michael Stewart was arrested for spraying graffiti at the First Avenue station on the train's Brooklyn-bound platform. Transit Police Officer John Kostick found Stewart scrawling “RQS” on the wall and had him arrested. Stewart allegedly said, "Hey, man, you got me."
While being taken to the station, Kostick said, Stewart became “very violent” in the van. Stewart struggled with the officers and ran to the street. He was beaten unconscious. He was hogtied, bound at the ankles and tethered hands-to-feet by an elastic strap. During the struggle, Stewart's wails could be heard by 27 Parsons School of Design students from their dorm windows. A Parsons student, Rebecca Reiss, heard Stewart say "Oh my God, someone help me", and "What did I do? What did I do?”
The transit police supervisors deemed Stewart emotionally disturbed. Stewart was placed back into the van and transported to Bellevue Hospital to undergo psychiatric observation.Stewart arrived at Bellevue at 3:22 a.m. He was handcuffed, his legs were bound, and he was comatose.. Stewart was dating Suzanne Mallouk at the time.She went with Stewart's family to see him at the hospital. According to their account, he had bruises and cuts on his body. The doctors confirmed he was brain dead and had hemorrhaged in a way that suggested he had either been choked or strangled. Stewart died on September 28, 1983, thirteen days after his arrest