NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Charges have been reduced against a Bronx man accused in the fatal beating of another man who police said was trying to rape his wife.
Mamadou Diallo, 61, is free on his own recognizance without bail Wednesday after being arraigned Tuesday night on charges including assault and criminal possession of a weapon.
Diallo, who originally faced a manslaughter charge, exited the Bronx criminal courthouse to cheers and a crowd of waiting supporters.
Diallo's family was still in shock Wednesday, but happy to have him home, CBS2's Magdalena Doris reported.
As CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported, Diallo spoke out for the first time on Wednesday.
"I'm fighting for my family and for myself. That's all," he said.
The dramatic chain of events began around 9:30 p.m. Monday.
Investigators said Diallo, a cab driver, raced home after getting a frantic call from his wife, Nenegale Diallo, saying that a man forced his way into their apartment and began beating Nenegale and ripping her clothes off.
The couple's son described what happened next.
"When he came, he ran into the guy in the hallway," Abdul Diallo said. "They started fighting and they was holding him down in the elevator until the cops came."
Police said Diallo beat the suspect, identified as 43-year-old Earl Nash, with a tire iron in the elevator bank. Nash was left with a fractured skull and later died at the hospital.
Police said Nash is a career criminal with 19 prior arrests including robbery, arson and assault.
Diallo's friends said it is a horrible situation for everyone involved.
"Mamadou Diallo, he's a very nice guy. He don't bother nobody, and he's not even violent," family friend Kamafing Sissoko said. "But in this situation, that's something else. You have to do anything to protect your family."
"He didn't mean to kill him, he didn't mean it. It was self-defense," family friend Ali Sakibou said. "I was very happy that they release him from jail."
"We really, really deplore this and we don't wish this on anybody," said family friend Abdoul Diallo.
Surveillance video from Diallo's Washington Avenue apartment building captured him armed with a tire iron, going after Nash.
"For the prosecution at this early stage to reduce it to assault is very unique. You don't see that very often," criminal defense attorney Alexander Sanchez said.
Sanchez, who is not representing Diallo, said it's also unusual for a defendant accused in a death to be released without bail.
"So that tells me the court, that tells me the prosecution, and that tells me the police are all favoring Mr. Diallo at the present time," he said.
Sanchez said the DA's office did the right thing in reducing the charges.
"District attorneys, despite what they say they, pay attention to what's in the press and what the public thinks is the right thing to do," he said.
Since his release, Diallo and his wife have been staying with family friends Aminata and Ibrahima Jalloh.
"The whole family back home -- nobody is sleeping, everybody is crying, everybody is worried, and everybody is praying," said relative Aminata Jalloh.
Ibrahima Jalloh said the Diallos have been overwhelmed with community support.
"He never have problem for anyone, so if somebody's good he do something good. When you do good, the longer you do good, people gonna support you. When you do bad, nobody be behind you," Ibrahima Jalloh said.
Late Wednesday, Mamadou Diallo's family was thanking the public and those who have defended his actions.
"Thank you all the people from the Bronx for your support," said Ibrahima Jalloh.
Mamadou Diallo is set to return to court on June 27. According to police, Diallo has two priors for filing a false instrument and trademark counterfeiting.
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