Michael Jerome Stewart was an African-American man who received recognition after his death following an arrest by New York City Transit Police for writing graffiti in soft tip marker or using an aerosol can on a New York City Subway wall at the First Avenue station. His treatment while in police custody and the ensuing trials of the arresting officers (all of whom were acquitted) sparked debate concerning police brutality and the responsibilities of arresting officials in handling suspects. This was a widely publicized episode in New York City’s history of police brutality cases.
Word of the arrest came out on September 15, 1983 as the Committee Against Racially Motivated Police Violence was holding a news conference to publicize a United States Congress hearing into complaints of police abuse. Stewart had been arrested earlier that day. He died at age 25, on September 28, after 13 days in a coma. The cause of death was listed as cardiac arrest.