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Cy Vance Wins Murder Conviction for East Village Sidewalk Killing

Shaun Martin killed Mohammed Akkas Ali and injured three other people when he sped onto an East Village sidewalk in 2013. Image: WNBC

Shaun Martin killed Mohammed Akkas Ali and injured three other people when he sped onto an East Village sidewalk in 2013. Image: WNBC

A driver who killed a man and injured two others on a Manhattan sidewalk was convicted of murder, District Attorney Cy Vance announced today.

Mohammed Akkas Ali. Photo via Daily News

Mohammed Akkas Ali. Photo via Daily News

Shaun Martin, who reportedly had a history of drunk driving, was high on PCP and methamphetamine when he tore through the East Village in a Nissan sedan at speeds exceeding 50 miles per hour on the morning of June 19, 2013, according to a Vance press release.

Martin drove onto the sidewalk at Second Avenue and Fourth Street, hitting a fire hydrant, a pay phone, a muni-meter, and a tree before striking Mohammed Akkas Ali and two other people who were working outside a corner grocery store.

Ali, 62, died from injuries sustained in the crash. His two coworkers were “seriously injured,” according to Vance. A fourth victim, a man on a bike, was injured by crash debris.

Vance charged Martin with second-degree murder and a number of other felonies, including two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, two counts of assault, four counts of aggravated vehicular assault, one count of reckless endangerment, and two counts of driving while ability impaired. Judge Melissa Jackson convicted Martin of all charges this week, following a bench trial, Vance’s office said.

Said Vance in a statement:

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Manhattan DA Vance Wins Manslaughter Conviction for High-Speed LES Crash

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance won a jury trial conviction for manslaughter in the case of a speeding motorist who killed a man walking on the Lower East Side in November of 2014.

Danny Lin was traveling at 55 mph when he hit Robert Perry on the Bowery. Photo via Bowery Boogie

Robert Perry was walking on the Bowery when Danny Lin struck him at 55 mph. Photo via Bowery Boogie

Danny Lin, 25, was driving a BMW at 55 miles per hour on the Bowery when he hit 57-year-old Robert Perry as Perry crossed the Bowery near Rivington Street, “sending the victim’s body into the air before landing more than 140 feet away,” according to Vance’s office.

Lin kept driving until he crashed into a fire hydrant a block away, narrowly avoiding several pedestrians, Vance’s office said.

Perry, who sometimes stayed at the nearby Bowery Mission, died at the hospital less than an hour after the collision.

Vance and NYPD initially charged Lin with homicide and leaving the scene. In 2015, Vance upgraded the top charge from homicide, a class E felony, to manslaughter, a class C felony. By the time the trial started, the homicide and leaving the scene charges had been dropped, according to court records, and manslaughter was the sole charge against Lin.

Manhattan DA Cy Vance successfully prosecuted Lin for manslaughter.

Manhattan DA Cy Vance successfully prosecuted Lin for manslaughter.

That Vance pursued a manslaughter charge and secured a conviction at trial in this case is noteworthy. It is uncommon for New York City district attorneys to charge drivers who kill people with manslaughter, unless the driver is impaired, fleeing police, killed the victim intentionally, or is also charged with leaving the scene. Persuading a jury to convict a sober driver for causing a death is no easy feat, even after a hit-and-run crash. According to data collected by Streetsblog, only a few times in recent years has a sober New York City driver received a manslaughter charge after being arrested at or near the scene of a fatal crash.

Said Vance in a statement:

This case serves as an unfortunate reminder of the risks associated with reckless driving and speeding. Danny Lin was fully aware of those risks as he hurtled down the Bowery at more than double the speed limit and took an innocent man’s life. He endangered the lives of pedestrians and drivers alike as he continued barreling down the street — with no regard for our laws or the safety of his fellow New Yorkers — before eventually crashing into a hydrant on a congested sidewalk, narrowly missing several bystanders. Because of the defendant’s recklessness and disregard for human life, my Office has fought to hold him accountable and will seek significant penalties for his criminal conduct.

A manslaughter conviction carries penalties ranging from probation to 15 years in prison. Lin is scheduled to be sentenced in September.

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Brooklyn DA Charges Driver With Manslaughter for Killing Victoria Nicodemus

The allegedly unlicensed driver who killed Victoria Nicodemus on the sidewalk faces a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Her family says Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson is OK with that.

After getting pressure from the victim’s family, DA Ken Thompson, right, filed felony charges against the driver who veered onto a Fort Greene sidewalk and killed Victoria Nicodemus, left, in December.

A grand jury has indicted Marlon Sewell for second-degree manslaughter six months after he jumped a curb in Fort Greene and killed 30-year-old Victoria Nicodemus while driving with a suspended license, Gothamist reports. Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson had refrained from pressing felony charges until Nicodemus’s family pressured his office to take action.

On December 6, Sewell, driving a Chevy SUV on eastbound Fulton Street, veered onto a crowded sidewalk instead of slowing down for a bus pulling into a stop near S. Portland Avenue, according to witnesses. He struck Nicodemus, her boyfriend, and another person.

“The bus stop was right there. He didn’t realize it was stopping,” a witness told the Daily News. “The driver went up on the curb trying to avoid it. He was going pretty fast.”

At first Thompson charged Sewell only with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, an unclassified misdemeanor, and operating a motor vehicle uninsured, a traffic infraction. The maximum penalty for the misdemeanor is 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.

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Driver Who Killed Man While Fleeing NYPD Pleads to Manslaughter

The press reported that Raymond Ramos was chased by police before he crashed into another vehicle and killed Dave Jones on a Brooklyn sidewalk. Image: News 12

The press reported that Raymond Ramos was chased by police before he crashed into another vehicle and killed Dave Jones on a Brooklyn sidewalk. Image: News 12

A driver who killed a man on a Brooklyn sidewalk while attempting to evade police pled guilty to manslaughter.

Police pulled Raymond Ramos over at Sterling Place and Schenectady Avenue in Crown Heights shortly after midnight on March 9, 2015. As officers approached his car, Ramos, then 18, drove off.

The Post and DNAinfo reported that police chased Ramos before he hit a second vehicle at Nostrand Avenue and St. Johns Place, about a mile away from the traffic stop. The impact sent both vehicles onto the sidewalk, fatally striking 21-year-old Dave Jones.

Photos published by the Daily News show both vehicles heavily damaged and overturned in front of a neighborhood shop, next to a shattered bus shelter. Three other vehicle occupants were reported injured.

NYPD and District Attorney Ken Thompson charged Ramos with manslaughter, two counts of assault, homicide, reckless endangerment, fleeing police, reckless driving, unlicensed driving, speeding, and other traffic infractions. On May 31, Ramos pled guilty to manslaughter, the top charge against him, according to court records.

It was never clear how much NYPD’s pursuit contributed to the crash.

NYPD policy says police must terminate vehicular pursuits “whenever the risks to uniformed members of the service and the public outweigh the danger to the community.” When Streetsblog asked Mayor de Blasio’s office if NYPD was investigating whether the police who stopped Ramos followed department protocol, we received a one-sentence, generic response: “The Crash Investigation Squad is conducting a full investigation.”

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DA Ken Thompson Still Hasn’t Charged Driver for December Sidewalk Killing

The allegedly unlicensed driver who killed Victoria Nicodemus on the sidewalk faces a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Her family says Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson seems OK with that.

The allegedly unlicensed driver who killed Victoria Nicodemus on the sidewalk faces a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Her family says Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson seems OK with that.

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson charged the driver who killed Victoria Nicodemus on a Fort Greene sidewalk with unlicensed driving, but did not file charges for taking the victim’s life. Six months after the crash, Nicodemus’s family says the DA is dragging his feet on the case.

Marlon Sewell hit Nicodemus, her boyfriend, and another person with a Chevrolet SUV on the afternoon of December 6, 2015, as the victims walked in front of 694 Fulton Street, near South Portland Avenue. Police told WPIX Sewell was “zooming” down the street. An NYPD statement said Sewell swerved onto the sidewalk to avoid hitting a second vehicle, which witnesses said was a bus.

“The bus stop was right there. He didn’t realize it was stopping,” a witness told the Daily News. “The driver went up on the curb trying to avoid it. He was going pretty fast.”

Victoria Nicodemus was 30 years old.

The current charges against Sewell are aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, an unclassified misdemeanor, and operating a motor vehicle while unlicensed, a traffic infraction. For crashing on a sidewalk reportedly at a high rate of speed, killing one person and injuring two others, allegedly while driving without a valid license, Sewell faces a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. That’s the same penalty an unlicensed driver would face for making a turn without signaling.

“It seems to my family that they’re really beginning to be OK with just standing pat on the misdemeanor charges, and for us that’s unacceptable,” says Hank Miller, Nicodemus’s brother.

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Driver Who Injured Woman on Manhattan Sidewalk Pleads to Two Felonies

A woman who hit a pedestrian on a Lower Manhattan sidewalk and left the scene pled guilty to two felony charges this week.

Cy Vance. Photo: Manhattan DA

On April 13, 2015, Tiffany Murdaugh drove her Dodge Challenger over the curb on Beekman Street near William Street, striking Heather Hensl and nearly hitting a second woman and two children as she sped down the sidewalk.

The crash happened outside Spruce Street School. Parents who have kids at the school told DNAinfo motorists often use the sidewalk to drive around traffic.

“I just saw this woman somersaulting in the air and then she landed on the sidewalk,” a witness told DNAinfo. “[Murdaugh] drove on the sidewalk as if it was a lane. So fast that I turned my head and I didn’t see the car.”

Hensl, then 37, sustained a broken knee and a head laceration.

Murdaugh did not stop. Though police had video evidence, NYPD hesitated to file charges, in part because Murdaugh lived out of state.

A few weeks after the crash, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance charged Murdaugh with two counts of assault, reckless endangerment, and leaving the scene. On Wednesday Murdaugh pled guilty to assault and reckless endangerment charges, both class D felonies, according to Vance’s office.

“This defendant careened onto a sidewalk near an elementary school at 8 o’clock in the morning on a school day,” Vance said in a statement. “It is a miracle that no one else was hurt by her recklessness. This driver not only narrowly missed a mother and her two young children, she seriously wounded a woman who had to endure months of physical therapy to rehabilitate her leg. I hope this conviction serves to deter reckless and illegal driving that endangers our City’s residents.”

It is rare for a motorist to be convicted of felony charges for injuring a New York City pedestrian, even in cases where the driver leaves the scene. The Vance press release said investigators relied on video and witness accounts to help make the case.

Class D felonies carry penalties ranging from probation to seven years in prison. Murdaugh is scheduled to be sentenced in August.

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No Right of Way Charge for Driver Who Killed Toddler in Bronx Crosswalk

The driver who killed 3-year-old Mariam Dansoko narrowly avoided striking her mother and a younger sibling. Will Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark file charges against him?

The driver who killed 3-year-old Mariam Dansoko narrowly avoided striking her mother and a younger sibling. Will Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark (right) file charges against him?

Update: Darcel Clark’s office sent us this statement: “Our office is investigating the incident with the NYPD Accident Investigation Squad, as we do with any fatality or serious injury when a pedestrian is struck.”

NYPD and Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark have not charged the driver who struck and killed 3-year-old Mariam Dansoko in a crosswalk near Yankee Stadium Monday.

Mariam, her mother, and a 2-year-old sibling in a stroller were crossing E. 164th Street at Gerard Avenue north to south when a 21-year-old man hit Mariam with a 2014 Nissan while turning left from Gerard, which is northbound, onto E. 164th, according to NYPD and published reports. DNAinfo reported that Mariam was on her way to preschool when the crash occurred, at around 8 a.m.

“There’s no charges at this point,” an NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog. True to NYPD protocol when a motorist kills a pedestrian and is not charged or ticketed, police shielded the driver’s identity.

We have a message in with Clark’s office asking whether the DA is investigating the crash.

E. 164th Street and Gerard Avenue are one-way residential streets that meet at a signalized intersection. There is no dedicated turn phase, meaning motorists and pedestrians are signaled to enter the crossing at the same time. If they entered the crosswalk before the pedestrian signal flashed orange, Mariam’s family would have had the right of way.

E. 164th Street at Gerard Avenue. The white arrow indicates the path of Mariam and her family, and the red arrow indicates the path of the driver, according to NYPD’s account of the collision. Image: Google Maps

E. 164th Street at Gerard Avenue. The white arrow indicates the path of Mariam and her family, and the red arrow indicates the path of the driver, according to NYPD’s account of the collision. Image: Google Maps

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SI Driver Charged With Manslaughter for Killing Cyclist With Boat Trailer

A motorist was charged with manslaughter for the death of a Staten Island cyclist who was struck by a boat trailer that detached from a truck.

Alexa Cioffi. Photo via SI Advance

Alexa Cioffi. Photo via Staten Island Advance

Alexa Cioffi and her friend Briana Emanuele were riding on Hylan Boulevard at Redgrave Avenue on the afternoon of September 14, 2015, when the driver of an SUV, who was towing a boat, attempted to pass them on their left.

The trailer carrying the boat became unhitched from the truck and struck both victims. Emanuele, then 22, was injured, and Cioffi, who was 21, was killed.

Last month, District Attorney Michael McMahon charged Michael Khmil with manslaughter, homicide, misdemeanor assault, and reckless endangerment, according to court records.

From the Staten Island Advance:

According to the indictment, Khmil’s SUV was pulling a boat trailer with a maximum hauling capacity of 3,000 pounds, yet the boat weighed in excess of 4,000 pounds.

Khmil failed to secure the trailer to his SUV with chains and also failed to install a braking system on the trailer as prescribed by warning labels affixed to the trailer, contends the indictment.

As a result, the trailer detached from Khmil’s SUV and struck Cioffi and Emanuele while traveling at a speed exceeding 20 miles per hour, the indictment alleges.

Manslaughter, the top charge against Khmil, is a class C felony that carries penalties ranging from probation to 15 years in prison.

Khmil’s next scheduled court date is set for next week.

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Majority of NYC DAs Agree: All City Schools Should Have Speed Cameras

Cy Vance, Ken Thompson, and Richard Brown

Cy Vance, Ken Thompson, and Richard Brown

Three New York City district attorneys have endorsed Albany legislation that would allow New York City to install speed enforcement cameras outside every school.

Cy Vance, Ken Thompson, and Richard Brown, the top prosecutors in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, respectively, sent separate letters to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Assembly Transportation Chair David Gantt, and Manhattan Assembly Member Deborah Glick in support of Assembly Bill 9861. Introduced by Glick, the bill would allow any school to have automated speed enforcement with no time of day restrictions. The bill would also make the program permanent.

Currently, NYC is limited to 140 speed cameras to cover the entire city, leaving streets used by over a million kids without enforcement to slow speeding drivers. Cameras can only be used during school hours, and the program would sunset in 2018. Tickets carry a $50 fine with no license or insurance points and are only issued to drivers who exceed the speed limit in school zones by 11 mph or more.

Speeding is down by 60 percent in areas covered by existing cameras, according to DOT. Extending camera coverage to all city schools could save 100 lives and prevent 2,700 crashes and 1,400 serious injuries annually, according to Transportation Alternatives.

“As Brooklyn’s chief law enforcement officer, I am committed to protecting pedestrians and holding drivers accountable for injuries caused by their reckless driving,” wrote Thompson. “The increased presence of speed cameras in our neighborhoods is a necessary tool in helping keep Brooklyn students and pedestrians safe.”

“My top priority as a prosecutor is public safety, and the effectiveness of school zone speed cameras in protecting New York City children and pedestrians is undeniable,” said Vance. “Speed cameras have proven to be an inexpensive way to slow down drivers and save lives.”

“Speeding is a leading cause of injury-related death for children in my county and throughout New York,” Brown wrote. “Getting drivers to slow down will reduce these injuries and deaths.”

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Truck Driver Charged With Reckless Driving for Killing Heather Lough at NYBG

A truck driver struck and killed a woman outside the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx last week. He has been charged with reckless driving and failure to yield.

Heather Lough. Photo via YouCaring

Heather Lough. Photo via YouCaring

The victim, 29-year-old Heather Lough, was heading to her job at the botanical garden on the morning of Wednesday, April 27, when Robert Owens, 45, hit her with a commercial box truck, according to NYPD and an online memorial page established to raise funds for Lough’s burial expenses.

The crash happened at around 9:30 a.m. outside NYBG’s Mosholu Gate. Police said Owens drove out of the botanical garden and made a left turn onto Southern Boulevard, striking Lough with the front bumper of the truck on the passenger side. An anonymous tipster told Streetsblog witnesses saw Owens “on his phone” at the time of the collision.

NYPD said Lough was leaving the Metro-North Botanical Garden Station, across the street from the NYBG, when she was struck. It’s not clear if Lough was biking or walking (the tipster said Lough was seen walking her bike), but in either case, she would have had the right of way.

Lough was taken to Jacobi Hospital with head and body trauma. She died on Monday.

Police charged Owens, who lives in Manhattan, with reckless driving. He was also charged under the city’s Right of Way Law. Both offenses are unclassified misdemeanors. The NYPD public information office said the department’s Collision Investigation Squad is still investigating the crash.

A second source who works at NYBG and asked to remain anonymous said the intersection is “very dangerous” and drivers “regularly speed through the light.”

“She was wearing her helmet, followed the signs, and did everything right,” Lough’s memorial page reads. “However, the driver was not paying attention, and ran over her.”

It’s unknown who owns the truck Owens was driving. A botanical garden representative told Streetsblog Owens does not work there.

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