An off-duty NYPD officer was found guilty at trial last week for the hit-and-run killing of a pedestrian in the Mariners Harbor section of Staten Island.
William Hemphill, 51, was crossing Richmond Terrace, near Simonson Avenue, to get food before work at about 6:18 a.m. on October 4, 2013, when Joseph McClean struck him at a high rate of speed with a Ford SUV, the Advance reported.
Prosecutors said the collision severed Hemphill’s spinal cord, broke 14 of his ribs and both of his legs. McClean, who according to prosecutors had spent the previous night drinking at a bar, left the scene.
The crash occurred six hours after McClean ended his shift at the 121st Precinct, the Daily News reported.
“The guy hit him so hard he landed a block away. He hit him and he kept on going,” the bodega’s owner told the News.
McClean was charged with felony leaving the scene, homicide, and driving while ability impaired. In court, McClean’s attorney put the victim on trial, arguing that Hemphill had prescription drugs and cocaine in his system, and therefore caused the collision.
From the Advance:
“How do we know whether the alcohol made any difference? It wouldn’t have,” said [Attorney Howard] Tanner, who addressed jurors for more than two hours. “It is the greatest fear of all of us. Someone running out into the street and we have no chance [to avoid hitting them]. It’s not criminal. … This was a tragic accident. All the stars aligned in the wrong way.”