INTV

A Candid Interview with New York Subway Hero and Author Joe Lozito

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For the average citizen in America, seeing two police officers enter your train car would make you feel a little safer. Here are the people who are paid to protect and serve you as a tax paying member of the law-abiding public. They are trained to handle difficult and dire situations. They are armed with guns, tasers, and specially designed clubs. They wear bullet-proof vests. Seeing two of them, you’d think that they could handle a knife wielding killer. Especially one who they are specifically there to arrest.

Instead, imagine your horror as the killer turns to you and attacks you with his knife. While the two officers stand behind their protective door watching through the window. Waiting to move in only after you have saved your own life, and with no training, no weapons, subdued the killer.

Then picture having to watch them be held up as the heroes who saved your life. This is not the start of some Hollywood thriller, though it seems like one. It is in fact what happened to Joe Lozito one morning back in 2011. On the day he was attacked he did not realize that his fight had just begun. And it’s a fight he is still battling.

I first encountered Joe Lozito on Twitter as a fellow fan of both the UFC and Glory. I just thought he was a typical friendly fan who was also passionate about combat sports. Then I discovered his story of surviving a horrific attack on the NY Subway by spree-killer Maksim Gelman. During his interviews immediately after the attack he credited his years of watching MMA for his instinctual takedown of Gelman. You would think that battling and taking down a killer like Gelman would be the toughest fight he would face. It was not, as he then found himself up against the bureaucracy of our legal system and the representatives of New York City. We fast forward to now and his book detailing his battles is out and titled, “The New York Subway Hero: My Battle with Evil…and a Spree-Killer!!

The book is both a fascinating and frustrating read. You will learn about the battle on the train and the harrowing minutes afterwards as Joe clung to life with the help of a civilian named Alfred Douglas. The attack and the events that followed are the fascinating part. The frustration comes as Joe is forced to battle the legal system, once we learn it is clearly setup for the rich and powerful, and not the average everyday man like Joe. He has a very natural conversational style of writing, one in which you can hear his voice very clearly throughout the book.

Right now Joe is back to his normal everyday grind as a parent and husband working his job and taking care of his family. That is one of the things that come across in the book is his love for his family. When we talked, Joe was watching his two sons and doing some laundry. His book came out this past June and Joe is working on getting the word out about it.

This is a project (the book) on which I had no backing except for the people that made some donations to make it happen and in terms of a ghostwriter, publisher and marketing I am doing it all on my own. I really just want people to know that the book is out there. A lot of people know the story, but you know how it is when something first happens. The first day of the news its out there and then it goes away. I’ve been trying to brings things back and I think a lot of people know about the original incident but many people don’t know all of the details in terms of what the cops did, or how the system massacred me. Basically the dismissal of the case is what led to the writing of the book.

For many people going through the attack and then not even getting your day in court could drive them to insanity, but not Joe. Instead, he finds strength in his family.

I have, well, it’s two reasons and ways I keep my sanity. First and foremost I am absolutely blessed with a great family. I have a wonderful wife named Andrea and two boys named Joseph and Dominic. They are my reasons for everything. I am humbled to be their father and Andrea’s husband and there is too much to do in life to dwell on the negative. My wife I go back and forth a lot because I try to be overly positive and my wife tends to be a little bit on the negative side so that is probably why we are good together.

For me I wake up every morning I am ahead of the game. For me the writing of the book really helped me out because as I wrote each chapter it was like a little bit more weight came off of my shoulders. When I finished a chapter then I moved past it and then when I finished the next chapter I moved past that part. I am not unrealistic this will be with me for the rest of my life. But, if I give Maksim Gelman or police officers Tamara Taylor and Terrance Howell or Judge Margret Chan any space in my head that is time and space I am not giving to my friends and my family or things that I like to do. So, for me I’m fortunate and I know other people may not be as fortunate if they have been in similar circumstances but I am just really fortunate where I are really able to focus on other things. The incident from start to finish is always with me but I am pretty good at distracting myself.

It is Joe’s focus on his family and ability to keep things in perspective that is simple and remarkable at the same time.

I think in any kind of incident like this, where, let’s call it what is I was staring death in the face and by rights I should be dead. If I went down one path I am a basket case and I am miserable. I’ve never once said why me and people would ask me why you, and I would say why not me I am just a regular guy and it could have been anyone on that train, but it was me so if I chose to dwell on the negative part of it I would ruin my life. I wouldn’t be much of husband, I wouldn’t be much of a father, I wouldn’t be much of friend and no one would want to be around me. Basically I wouldn’t want to be around me I probably could not stand myself. There is so much out there and I am not even the guy that likes adventures. I’m the most boring person in the world I am fully content hanging out today with my kids while my wife’s at work I am going to see her later and right now I’m doing laundry. I have a very basic life I am happy with that I am content with that. I get to wake up and hangout with my kids and my wife. It’s just the way it is.

I try to be a positive person there is so much negative out there and if I can be positive and then maybe others will see and can be positive too. It is like pay it forward. Also for me I guess it is why be negative? If you are negative about a particular situation once you done being negative the situation has not changed so what is the point. Being negative for a few minutes a day an hour, a week, a year and the situation is still the same so what good did it do.

Look, I’m 43 years old I have problems like everyone else. I’ve had a lot of shitty things happen to me in my life and if I was someone from the outside looking at me and I was negative, I was this and I was that and sullen or whatever. I would just say, “You know what he’s been through a lot and he gets it I’m going to give this guy a pass after everything he has been through, just leave him be you know.” I have had a ton of shitty things happen to me in my life like most people but I also have had a lot of good things happen to me and don’t focus on the negative. It does not get you anywhere I have been that way in the past and it’s just with experience getting older or having children you realize the negative does not get you anywhere.

It would be so easy for someone to be negative after the frustrations Joe has experienced dealing with his battle to have a day in court. Instead he draws strength from his family and doing what he has to for them. In many ways he is one of the many fathers who go to work everyday to provide for their families. That his name is Joe seems fitting as he represents the average working man who did something extraordinary when called upon.

 I call myself a below average Joe, I mean there’s absolutely nothing remarkable about me. I work for a living I am fortunate enough to have a job and I have a great family, but there’s nothing remarkable about me. You know people call me a hero and they do this and they do that I am really appreciative about that but I always say I did what anyone else would have done that day. You know you don’t realize what you are cable of until you are put in that situation… if you had asked me before that what I would have done, I would have liked to say I would have fought back and I would have done this. But, you don’t know until you are in that situation. More people than not have said if that was me I would have curled up in a ball and he would have carved me to pieces. You don’t know that. When you are in a situation that is life or death and you have somebody to fight for and to fight for yourself. Regular people, average people are capable of doing above average things when we are pushed to the limit.

There is zero remarkable about me I’m just a guy, and that is it. I am glad the people can relate to me. I am approachable on Twitter, I try to answer everyone’s questions and if people follow me I follow them back. I am here in the city everyday and five days a week I am at work, and to this day I still have people come up to me and ask if I am that guy on the subway. I am just me if people talking to me and reading my story and if they get inspiration from that – how humbling is that? I mean how humbling. I am nothing special and if I can make a difference for someone that is unbelievable.

When I mentioned that Joe reacted the way most people would hope they would react in that situation his response was quick.

I know at least two people on that train who would not react the same way that I did.

This leads to something that is very important to Joe especially to those who try to paint him as anti-police officer.

One of the things that is important to me and I try to tell this to everybody, the situation is I am not anti-cop and it is very important that people understand that. People see me and they hear me being critical of the cops and the fact is my sister is a New York city cop. The support I’ve received from individual police officers off the record because they cannot say anything official has been amazing. Some of my biggest supporters have been police officers because a story like mine with these two cowards makes the whole force look bad, and it always the same thing, “good job, what you did was amazing but don’t ever use my name.” I’m in Penn Station everyday and I see cops everyday in Penn Station and I had a cop the other day, he called my name. He recognized me and he knows my sister and he stopped me and we talked for two minutes and he told me to keep fighting.

I think the two cops that were on my train are worthless pieces of shit. Which I couldn’t say when my case was ongoing and I had to be politically correct. Now that is over no more PC. Those two cops should be fired. They’re a disgrace to their badges and the human race. Again, some of my biggest supporters are members of different police forces. Another one is a US Marshal. Law enforcement in general I have no beef at all with them. I pray to God that nobody’s life is ever in danger on the watch of those two cowards.

Specifically I have issues with the two officers. I have issues with the former police commissioner. I have issues with the former mayor and I have issues with the judge. That is five people, that’s it. I make no bones about it during everything that happened that mayor stood upon that podium and totally dismissed everything I did, and he knew the whole story because the cop at the hospital, when I got to the hospital, that officer knew what happened. That is why he said you are a hero. I’m like, I am not a hero why am I a hero? That is the first time I found out that Gelman was on a killing spree. If that officer knew what happened then the mayor had to know what happened.

The mayor and the police commissioner chose to cover that up and give the credit to the police, and keep in mind that I am not looking for credit. I am looking for accountability. I want these two to be held accountable. Don’t get me wrong, if they had saved my life then give them the credit. The fact is the person that saved my life is a man named Alfred Douglas. He never ever had his name mentioned once by anybody on the side of New York City. Not one single time and Alfred Douglas helped Howell handcuff Gelman then saved my life on the train, but you would never know it if you were waiting for word from the city.

Had I died on that train, and by the way, those two officers were prepared to let me die on that train that day, then I just would have been the fifth murder victim and nobody would know who Alfred Douglas is and all of that when you put it all together it is an absolute fucking disgrace.

One of the more ridiculous things in the book was the “special relationship” element of this whole event and the way they used it against him.

The special relationship thing, and I hope it came across in the book, the special relationship when it is applied in the right way to me makes sense. It is really there for the orders of protection. Think about it. You can’t station a cop outside for everybody that has an order of protection. If there is an order of protection against me from my old lady and I go and kill her, well my mother in-law can’t sue the police. How do they know when I am going to strike and that makes sense there. There is no special relationship between my wife and the police force.

But, when you got these two idiots hiding behind a door watching the whole thing go down. When the guy they are on the train to arrest is right there in front of them. They chose to do nothing. According to the law, again, there is no special relationship between the two officers and me.

That is the bullshit they used to get me out of court. They wanted no part of me in court. I would have buried them in court because their lawyer would have tried to pull something, but again I have the truth on my side. They didn’t stand a chance because three of us would have been on trial that day on the stand. Me and those two, cops one of us would not have needed a script. I would have just shot from the hip. Told the truth and those two would have had a lot of memorizing to do off of the script they would have been given. They wanted no part of me in court and it is bullshit, absolute bullshit.

Believe it or not they took Protect and Serve off of the police cars here probably because of shit like this, not my case in particular but ones like it.

Let me explain to you special relationship in its simplest form. Had I known who Maksim Gelman was before that day and I had knocked on the door and said, “excuse me Maksim Gelman the murderer is on this train,” and they would have said, “okay thank you.” We now have a special relationship. How fucking stupid is that?

Had that happened there is a special relationship established. It’s idiotic. That’s the special relationship. We have a conversation, “Hey whats going on you going to protect me right?” It’s just idiotic.

It’s laughable the cases they used against me. That’s why I laugh about it. What am I going to do? I’m reading this and I am thinking “you’ve got to be kidding me,” you know. So, I have to laugh or I will want to jump off a building.

He is currently working with attorney Lalit Jain on an appeal.

The problem with appeals, is once a case is dismissed now you have to basically prove what you could not prove the first time, and you have to prove why the original decision was incorrect. My new lawyer Lalit Jain, he does things very differently and to his credit he has a lot more confidence than I do. I think Lalit is a brilliant man and I think the approach his is taking is absolutely brilliant. I just don’t have any faith in the system. That they are going to buy it. To me there is just too much nonsense that their corporation consul has at their disposal to just get rid of people like me. I just don’t have much hope for any kind of appeals.

I have two hopes and one I’ll know. My two hopes are that somehow this book blows up and becomes something. That people read it and they understand what happened. I wanted the book to be entertaining and I wanted the book to educate people. You can have an entertaining book and not be any smarter after you read it, and the reality is no one is buying educational books for pleasure otherwise college bookstores would have lines out the door. So, i wanted the book to be both and I think if someone invests the money in the book they’ll be entertained and I think they’ll be educated. So my hope. My satisfaction will be if this book takes off and people buy it. I ask everybody if you buy the book please take a picture of yourself with it and tag me with it on Twitter. Please write a review on Amazon because that is the way for the book to get out there.

The other way that I would get satisfaction and this is one I will never know. I am a fighter and I am not going away, and New York city and their corporate lawyers need to know that. I just hope at some point one of the lawyers for the city says to one of his co-workers, says to his wife or says to himself “I wish we would have just sat at the table with the guy and done something to make him go away.” I want them to regret fighting me on this and I will never know that, and if that’s happened already I will never know, but I want them to sit back and say we just should have went to the table with this guy because he is more trouble than he’s worth.

I am not going anywhere. They should know by now that fighting’s in my DNA. I didn’t give on the train that day, I didn’t give up when my first lawyer wanted himself recused from the case. I just went and did everything myself. I’m a fighter and I am proud to say that and I’m not going anywhere. So, I just hope one of them says we should have just gotten rid of this guy right away.

There is no doubt that Joe is a fighter. His reaction to Gelman was instinctual and that of a fighter. Joe fought off Gelman, fought for his life in the seemingly eternal moments after the attack and is now fighting to hold those responsible accountable. All he wants is for people to know his story and the dream of his day in court.

We will see what happens as far as the appeal goes it’s the system man and the system is fucked. So I don’t have much hope for it. My hope is that someone who is no better than you or I are but has a forum like an Oprah or an Ellen or a Bill O’Reilly or someone like that. Again, just a regular person as far as I am concerned but has a forum with a legion of people that follow them like a Jon Stewart or a Jimmy Kimmel or anyone that will help me get this message out there. That is really what I need. I don’t view Oprah better than you or I but she’s more influential in terms of her status in this world for better or for worse than you or I. I have always said that I just need to reel in one big fish. If I reel in one big fish there is enough of a story then the other follows suit.

If you want to see how broken the justice system is for the common man, even when he does something heroic, than buy Joe’s book. You will learn about the attack on the train through Joe’s eyes and his frustrating battle with the bureaucratic justice system setup to protect and serve the rich and powerful not the average Joe.

You can follow Joe on Twitter @joe_lozito

Also, checkout his website and if you have already bought his book share a review on Amazon and Tweet Joe a picture with it for him to share with his followers.

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