In Lefevre Case, NYPD Press Statements Don’t Match NYPD Crash Report

Speaking at yesterday’s Transportation Alternatives rally at 1 Police Plaza, Erika Lefevre pointed to inconsistencies between initial accounts of the hit-and-run collision that killed her son Mathieu and the version offered by the crash report, which her family obtained only after weeks of NYPD stonewalling.

The case of Mathieu Lefevre is only the latest in which relatives and friends of traffic crime victims are kept in the dark by a police department with a long record of withholding information regarding cyclist and pedestrian deaths. It does, however, afford a detailed look at NYPD incompetence and obfuscation. For example:

  • An NYPD officer told Gothamist that the department “had concluded that Lefevre had run a red light at the intersection.” The glaring flaw in that conclusion is that if both Lefevre and driver Leonardo Degianni were traveling in the same direction, and Lefevre ran a light, presumably Degianni could not have struck Lefevre unless he did the same. Regardless, there is no mention in the crash report of either party running a light.
  • The prevailing narrative of the crash, which originated with NYPD, is that Lefevre was riding to the right of Degianni’s commercial truck when Degianni turned into him. The diagram on the crash report seems to depict a rear-end collision, and the officer’s notes say Degianni made the turn after the collision.
  • NYPD told the Lefevre family that the truck that hit Mathieu was identified through visible damage, but the vehicle damage codes section of the crash report was marked through, with no details documented.
  • On October 24, an NYPD spokesperson told Gothamist: “The driver did not know that he hit the cyclist.” The police report, amended on October 30 with Degianni’s identity (which police would not provide to Gothamist or the Lefevre family), includes no explanation of why Degianni left the scene, or what circumstances led him to run over a person on a bicycle without knowing it.
  • NYPD told Erika Lefevre that charges had been dropped against the driver, suggesting that charges were filed at some point. This contradicts a statement, also reported by Gothamist on October 24, that no charges were filed, as well as remarks from a department spokesperson who told Metro: “There’s no criminality. That’s why they call it an accident.”

Inexplicably, even as NYPD refused information to the Lefevres, the department was talking to the media. On October 26, a week after her son was killed, Erika Lefevre told reporters, “All we know is what we have read in the papers.” On Wednesday, Lefevre spoke directly to NYPD.

“Today, I am asking NYPD to stop leaking misinformation to the press about crash victims,” she said. “That only hurts victims and their families and makes NYPD appear unprofessional and biased.” Lefevre said that to this point NYPD has not complied with freedom of information requests and has not permitted her family to see video of the crash and other evidence police say they have.