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No Charges for Driver Who Repeatedly Ran Over Brooklyn Pedestrian

A livery cab driver repeatedly backed over a Brooklyn rabbi Monday afternoon in Crown Heights, killing him, but no charges were filed by NYPD or Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.

Yekutiel Rapp was crossing Empire Boulevard at Balfour Place at around 5:30 p.m. when the driver hit him while reversing out of a parking spot, according to reports.

Yekutiel Rapp. Photo via Yeshiva World News

Yekutiel Rapp. Photo via Yeshiva World News

From Crown Heights Info:

The driver, realizing that he had hit something but unaware that it was a person, backed up his car — running the man over a second time; in the ensuing mayhem, the driver then drove forward — running him over a third time.

Witnessing the horrific crash and first on scene was a pair of Shomrim volunteers, both of whom immediately sprang into action, forcing the driver to stop his vehicle while calling for emergency rescue services and attempting to free the gravely injured man from under the vehicle.

Together with a number of bystanders they attempted to lift the car enough to free the man. Another Shomrim volunteer arrived with a large car jack and further lifted the car, at which point firefighters arrived on scene and joined in the rescue effort.

“I heard the guy banging on the car telling him to stop,” witness Calvin Thomas told the Post.

Rapp, a noted 66-year-old orthodox rabbi, died at Kings County Hospital. Police had filed no charges as of this afternoon. An NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog the investigation is still open.

Unless the driver is charged and convicted of breaking a traffic law he will in all likelihood remain in good standing with the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

This fatal crash occurred in the 71st Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Deputy Inspector George Fitzgibbon, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 71st Precinct council meetings happen at 7:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month at MS 61, 400 Empire Boulevard. Call 718-735-0527 for information.

Yekutiel Rapp was killed was killed in the City Council district represented by Laurie Cumbo, and in Brooklyn Community Board District 9.

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NYPD: Drivers Killed 18 Pedestrians and Cyclists in May, and Injured 1,262

Image: NYPD

Image: NYPD

Twenty-eight people died in New York City traffic in May, and 4,771 were injured, according to the latest NYPD crash data report [PDF].

As of the end of May, 49 pedestrians and cyclists were reported killed by city motorists this year, and 5,049 injured, compared to 54 deaths and 5,669 injuries for the same period in 2014. Drivers killed more pedestrians in May than in any other single month since the launch of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero program.

Citywide, at least 17 pedestrians and one cyclist were fatally struck by drivers: five pedestrians and one cyclist in Manhattan; three pedestrians in the Bronx; six pedestrians in Brooklyn; and three pedestrians in Queens. Among the victims were Ervi Secundino, Favhad Chowdhury, Amelia Sterental, Nfn Loknauth, John Torson, Victor Grant, Irwin Mayer, Wanda Canestri, Galina Shibayeva, Ian Paul Bubb, Sincere Atkins, Dorria Campfield, Sergei Musatov, an unnamed female pedestrian in Brooklyn, an unnamed male pedestrian in Brooklyn, and an unnamed male pedestrian in the Bronx.

Motorists killed at least two children and six seniors: Sincere Atkins, 8; Ervi Secundino, 12; Amelia Sterental, 76; Nfn Loknauth, 83; John Torson, 89; Irwin Mayer, 96; Wanda Canestri, 68; and Galina Shibayeva, 76.

Motorists killed at least five pedestrians in May whose names were not immediately disclosed by NYPD, or whose deaths were not covered in the press. Most every month, there are pedestrian and cyclist deaths that go unreported other than the scant details provided weeks later in the NYPD dataset, which lists only the intersection closest to the crash and the victim’s mode of travel.

Across the city, 808 pedestrians and 472 cyclists were reported hurt in collisions with motor vehicles. Per NYPD policy, few of these crashes were investigated by trained officers.

Of 16 fatal crashes on surface streets reported by Streetsblog and other outlets, no motorists were known to have been charged for causing a death. Based on NYPD and media accounts, at least five victims were likely walking or cycling with the right of way when they were struck, but police and district attorneys are known to have applied the city’s Right of Way Law in none of those crashes. Historically, nearly half of motorists who kill a New York City pedestrian or cyclist do not receive so much as a citation for careless driving.

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Driver Kills Cyclist in Ditmas Park, NYPD and Media Blame Deceased Victim

A driver killed a cyclist in Ditmas Park this morning.

The cyclist, a 57-year-old man, was riding eastbound on Church Avenue near Ocean Avenue when he was run over by the driver of a commercial box truck, who was also eastbound on Church, according to NYPD. The crash happened at around 10:25 a.m.

Per usual, initial NYPD accounts focused on what the victim — who can’t speak for himself — purportedly did to get himself killed, with no word on the driver’s actions before the crash. Sergeant Lee Jones told Gothamist the victim “lost control and struck the side of the box truck and fell under the wheels.”

DNAinfo cited unnamed NYPD sources who said the victim “swerved” and “turned into” the truck. “Witnesses said they didn’t see any helmet with the cyclist, just a Dallas Cowboys baseball cap,” DNA reported.

The cyclist was pronounced dead at Kings County Hospital, NYPD said.

The NYPD public information office had no additional details when we called, but said the crash was still under investigation. Police had not released the victim’s identity as of earlier this afternoon. NYPD does not usually divulge the names of drivers who kill people unless charges are filed.

While it’s not clear what happened this morning, Church Avenue has no dedicated space for biking, with little room between the parking lane and moving traffic.

Injury crashes in the vicinity of Church Avenue and Ocean Avenue, indicated by the blue dot, in 2015. Image: Vision Zero View

Injury crashes this year in the vicinity of Church Avenue and Ocean Avenue, indicated by the blue dot, as of May. Image: Vision Zero View

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Did Cy Vance’s Office Investigate the Crash That Killed Mike Rogalle?

Cy Vance’s office said it has no record of the crash that killed Mike Rogalle.

Cy Vance’s office said it has no record of the crash that killed Mike Rogalle.

A Manhattan prosecutor says District Attorney Cy Vance’s office has no record of any investigation into the curb-jump crash that killed pedestrian Mike Rogalle.

Rogalle, who delivered packages for UPS, was working his Financial District route on the afternoon of April 17, 2012, when an SUV driver ran him over on the sidewalk outside 15 Beekman Street. Rogalle was removed from life support days later. He was 58.

Reports said there were two adults and two small children in the SUV. The press identified the adult passenger, a man, as an FDNY inspector. The driver was reportedly a woman. The names of the people in the SUV were not reported by the media.

NYPD and Vance filed no charges against the driver who killed Mike Rogalle.

Last month NYPD rejected a Streetsblog FOIL request for records pertaining to the crash, citing “an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” On May 26 we filed a freedom of information request for documents from Vance’s office, including emails, pertaining to the case.

Assistant DA Sarah Hines responded on June 10:

Utilizing the information provided in your letter, including the name of the man who died and the date and location of the collision, which you specify, I have made diligent inquiries in this Office, including speaking with the Chief of the Vehicular Crimes Unit as well as the Unit Coordinator of that unit. Despite these inquiries, I have been unable to locate any records or documents responsive to your request.

If we do not possess the items you seek, then your request must be denied on that basis. The District Attorney’s Office cannot provide an item that does not exist or that we do not possess. If we do possess some or all of the items you seek, then your request does not “reasonably” describe them in a manner which enables me to locate them, and your request must be denied on that basis.

In the past, Vance’s PR staff told Streetsblog they could not access traffic crash cases without defendants’ names. Since very few traffic crashes in New York City result in criminal charges, there are usually no defendants to speak of. Meanwhile, NYPD generally does not divulge drivers’ names after a serious crash unless charges are filed.

This makes it impossible for the public to know why charges are not brought against Manhattan drivers who injure and kill people. In the case of Mike Rogalle, it appears that either Vance’s office is incapable of locating records when provided key details of a collision, or Vance’s office did not investigate Rogalle’s death.

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NYPD: No ROW Charge for Driver Who Killed Moshe Grun in UWS Crosswalk

A driver turning left fatally struck Moshe Grun as he crossed Broadway at W. 62nd Street, where motorists are required by law to yield to pedestrians. The white arrows represent Grun’s path through the intersection — it is unknown if he was walking east or west — and the red arrow indicates the path of the driver. Image: Google Maps

A driver turning left fatally struck Moshe Grun as he crossed Broadway at W. 62nd Street, where motorists are required by law to yield to pedestrians. The white arrows represent Grun’s path through the intersection — it is unclear if he was walking east or west — and the red arrow indicates the path of the driver. Image: Google Maps

Will NYPD file Right of Way Law charges against a driver who fatally struck Moshe Grun in an Upper West Side crosswalk? A sergeant from the 20th Precinct wouldn’t answer that question, denying Grun had died before deferring to an investigator who was on vacation.

Grun, 59, was crossing Broadway at W. 62nd Street, in the marked crosswalk, when the westbound driver of a commercial van hit him while turning left onto southbound Broadway, according to reports and photos from the scene.

From JP Updates:

FDNY responded to the scene and found Grun trapped under the van. After rescuing him he was transported to St. Luke’s Hospital in cardiac arrest, with serious leg and head injuries.

The crash happened on June 1 at around 7 p.m. Grun died after three days in the hospital, JP Updates reported.

“The man was crossing and the van smashed into him,” a witness told the Daily News.

The News reported that, according to anonymous police sources, Grun was “crossing against the light.” But if the driver had a green light, Grun should have had a walk signal. Photos from the scene show the van in the Broadway crosswalk on the south side of the intersection.

The Post, DNAinfo, and WNBC also reported the crash, and none indicated Grun was violating traffic rules.

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When It Comes to Bike Enforcement, NYPD Can Do Better Than This

Warm weather means more bicyclists on city streets. It also means more ham-handed attempts by NYPD to improve bike safety, and officers are out in force this week ticketing people on bikes.

NYPD's traffic enforcement priorities yesterday on Hudson Street. Photo: BrooklynSpoke/Twitter

NYPD’s traffic enforcement priorities yesterday on Hudson Street. Photo: BrooklynSpoke/Twitter

Instead of ticketing wrong-way cyclists buzzing pedestrians in crosswalks, the police typically camp out and rack up tickets where cyclists break the letter of the law without jeopardizing anyone. Ticketing people for riding through a red light at a T-intersection is the bicycle equivalent of ticketing a pedestrian who crosses against the light when no cars are coming.

Bike enforcement operations have been spotted on the Hudson River Greenway, at the base of the Manhattan Bridge, on Hudson Street, and on Eighth Avenue. These are all locations where there are plenty of people biking, and probably plenty of people who bike through red lights after checking to see if the coast is clear.

Handing out red light violations at these locations is easy for police, but it’s not a good use of resources if the department is serious about Vision Zero.

Officers from the 5th Precinct, for example, can often be spotted issuing red light tickets to cyclists coming off the Manhattan Bridge and on Chrystie Street. The same precinct has issued just 46 speeding tickets and 71 failure to yield tickets so far this year.

If the department is going to spend time on bike enforcement, it should at least focus on the people riding the wrong way or cutting through crosswalks at speed. That would be harder than ticketing the “scofflaws” who are jaywalking on bikes, but it might actually improve conditions on the street.

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NYPD Bike Crackdown Season Has Nothing to Do With Vision Zero

When the weather warms up you can count on two things: more New Yorkers riding bikes, and NYPD bike ticket blitzes.

Keegan Stephan of Right of Way tweeted that the 19th Precinct was handing out flyers to cyclists this morning and warning of a “crackdown” starting tomorrow.

The flyers feature the city’s Vision Zero graphic along with NYPD, DOT, and TLC logos. They advise cyclists to “be visible” and “use bike lanes.” Pedestrians are directed to “do what you can to be seen.” Drivers are told to “slow down” and “expect people in the crosswalk.”

You might get the impression from the flyer that motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists are equally responsible for carnage on NYC streets. In fact, driver behavior causes most serious crashes.

NYPD bike crackdowns have never been about targeting dangerous behavior. Instead, police stake out locations where infrastructure leads people on bikes to violate the letter of the law, and then the citations pile up.

While the 19th Precinct is gearing up to ticket cyclists, as of April local officers had ticketed just 24 drivers for speeding in 2015.

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Richard Brown: No Charges for Driver Who Killed Boy on Neighborhood Street

A driver fatally struck 8-year-old Sincere Atkins as he played outside his grandmother’s apartment on Sutphin Boulevard. Image: Google Maps

A driver fatally struck 8-year-old Sincere Atkins as he played outside his grandmother’s apartment on Sutphin Boulevard. Image: Google Maps

An 8-year-old boy hit by a driver on a neighborhood street in Queens on Memorial Day died from his injuries. NYPD and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown filed no charges.

Sincere Atkins was playing with his cousin outside his grandmother’s apartment, on Sutphin Boulevard near 125th Avenue, when a 21-year-old man hit him with a Toyota Corolla, according to reports.

A witness told the Post the driver, whose name was withheld by NYPD, hit Sincere “so hard it knocked his shoes across the street,” an indication the driver was probably speeding. Officers from the 113th Precinct, where Sincere was killed, issue an average of about one speeding ticket a day.

The crash happened on a street flanked by apartment buildings and a park, on a sunny spring day when kids were out of school — an environment where motorists should know to drive with care. “This is a very busy street,’’ a witness told the Post. “There are so many kids here. There should be a speed bump or something.’’

Reporters from the Post and the Daily News blamed the child, saying he “ran into traffic” and “darted” into the street.

Sincere died from head trauma on May 29, the News reported. “The driver of the car was not charged with a crime,” the News said.

The crash that killed Sincere occurred in the City Council district represented by Ruben Wills, and in Queens Community Board District 12.

Sincere Atkins was at least the third child age 14 and under killed by a New York City driver in 2015, and the 11th child victim since January 2014, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog.

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NYPD Denies FOIL Request for Files on NYPD Crash That Killed Felix Coss

NYPD rejected a Streetsblog freedom of information request for files pertaining to a crash in which an on-duty officer killed a pedestrian in Brooklyn.

Felix Coss. Photo via DNAinfo

Felix Coss, 61, was crossing Broadway at Hooper Street, in a crosswalk with the signal, on the afternoon of July 6, 2013, when Officer Paula Medrano struck him with a marked van from the 90th Precinct while making a left turn, according to reports and photos of the scene.

DNAinfo and the Daily News cited witnesses who said Medrano was seen talking on a cell phone at the time of the collision. “She had a cellphone to her right ear,” a witness told the Daily News. “She hit him. When she hit him, he fell on the floor and cracked his head open.”

The crash was reportedly investigated by the Internal Affairs Bureau, but the results of that investigation were not publicized in the media. Medrano’s name never appeared in an online database of court records.

On May 7, Streetsblog filed a FOIL request for records related to the crash. On May 26, NYPD Lieutenant Richard Mantellino rejected our request, citing “an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,” the same language Mantellino used to deny our FOIL for records pertaining to the 2012 curb-jump crash that killed Mike Rogalle. As with the Rogalle crash, NYPD could have redacted whatever personal information the department deemed necessary, but again chose to withhold all files.

NYPD shields information pertaining to traffic crash investigations from the public — and victims’ families — as a matter of course. NYPD is especially secretive concerning crashes involving police personnel, withholding data even from other city departments.

Streetsblog is appealing NYPD’s rejection of our request for information on the crash that killed Felix Coss.

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New Report Breaks Down Crashes Involving City Agencies, Except NYPD

The city agency most likely to be involved in a traffic crash is missing from a city report on traffic crashes. Image: DCAS [PDF]

The city agency involved in the most traffic collisions is missing from a report on traffic collisions involving city agencies. Image: DCAS [PDF]

A new report sheds light on the extent to which drivers working for city agencies are involved in traffic collisions [PDF]. But the picture is incomplete: NYPD, the agency involved in the most pedestrian injury claims, is withholding its crash information from the city’s database.

Excluding the police department, drivers of city-owned vehicles were involved in eight of the 250 traffic fatalities in New York City last year, according to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services. Of those eight, half involved sanitation vehicles.

Of the 5,805 collisions tracked by the report, 584 resulted in injury, including 49 crashes that injured pedestrians and 15 that injured bicyclists. Of the agencies in the database, fire department vehicles were involved in the most crashes with injuries, at 148, followed by sanitation with 98.

If NYPD were included in the city’s data, it would likely outpace the rest of city government. The police department is far and away the top agency for pedestrian injury claims, according to Comptroller Scott Stringer. While NYPD’s feed of reported crashes indicates whether the vehicle involved was a passenger car, truck, ambulance, fire truck, bus, or taxi, it doesn’t say whether the driver was behind the wheel of a police vehicle.

DCAS is “still working with NYPD” to bring its crash data into the city’s database, Deputy Commissioner for Fleet Management Keith Kerman told Streetsblog.

Almost half the crashes in the city’s database involved sideswipes, 18 percent were rear-end collisions, and 9 percent were head-on crashes. Rear-end collisions, however, comprised almost one in three crashes with injuries. DCAS has begun piloting driver alert systems focused on sideswipe and rear-end crashes, Kerman said, and has made these types of collisions a focus of its training for city drivers.

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