Security Video of Fatal Hit-and-Run Doesn’t Match NYPD Descriptions

It took a lawsuit from the family of Mathieu Lefevre to pry information from NYPD regarding the hit-and-run crash that took his life. Now they have reason to believe the police are still withholding vital evidence.

Last week, Streetsblog reported that NYPD had released a detailed description of how the crash unfolded, supposedly based on security video from a business located at 157 Morgan Avenue. But the footage NYPD gave the Lefevre family does not convey the same details as the descriptions of video in the police investigative file.

Here is the description of a security video from 157 Morgan submitted by Detective Gerard Sheehan. It delves into specific detail about the crash:

Here are two videos captured from 157 Morgan that NYPD gave to the Lefevres and their attorney, Steve Vaccaro, showing footage at the intersection immediately before Leonardo Degianni, who fatally struck Lefevre and then left the scene, turned on to Meserole Street. In the first clip, the crane truck operated by Degianni enters the frame at about the 4:50 mark, and a cyclist is briefly visible at about the 5:02 mark. In the second clip, the truck enters the frame slightly after the 6:50 mark. In neither video is the moment Degianni struck Lefevre plainly visible.

(Streetsblog transferred these videos from AVI files NYPD provided to the Lefevres and Vaccaro. The original files supplied by NYPD displayed the videos upside down — you can see how they appeared at the end of this post.)

Adding to the discrepancies, a second police description of security video does not match Sheehan’s description or the videos in the investigative file. The description from Detective Sheehan says that Lefevre was initially struck by the “passenger right side” of Degianni’s truck, which threw him “into the roadway” before Degianni struck him again. A second description, from officer Armand Tasca, says Lefevre “rode directly into the side of the truck as it made the right turn” (note that both Sheehan and Tasca wrote that Degianni and Lefevre were traveling north on Morgan, when they were in fact traveling south — see crash diagram at the end of this post):

“The FOIL documents raise more questions than they answer,” said Vaccaro. Even with a close viewing of the videos posted here — two of the four released by NYPD — it’s impossible to corroborate NYPD’s version of how the collision unfolded. (The third video shows the truck traveling on Meserole Street, leaving behind what appears to be Lefevre’s bike mid-block, and the fourth video shows Degianni parking the crane truck, then driving away in another vehicle.)

NYPD’s public information office has not responded to Streetsblog’s request to speak with Detective Sheehan about the discrepancy between the videos and the descriptions of the videos in the investigative file.

On January 27, Vaccaro demanded that NYPD certify that he and the Lefevres have received accurate copies of all videos in the department’s possession. He has not yet received a response. “The NYPD’s account of the crash doesn’t hold water, unless there is video or other evidence they are withholding,” Vaccaro says.

Diagram of the crash from NYPD’s investigative file:

Videos from 157 Morgan Avenue as NYPD submitted to the Lefevres and Vaccaro: