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Posts from the Hit-and-Run Category

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DA Cy Vance Wins Conviction in Washington Heights Hit-and-Run Killing

A driver charged with fatally striking a man in Washington Heights and leaving the scene was sentenced to prison yesterday.

Antonio Ramirez. Image: WNBC

Antonio Ramirez. Image: WNBC

Jesus Fabian pled guilty to evidence tampering in the death of Antonio Ramirez, according to court records and the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.

The crash occurred on Audubon Avenue at W. 176th Street on October 18, 2013, as the victim walked home from the subway at the end of an overnight shift at the restaurant where he worked.

Ramirez, 40, was married with two kids, who were 14 and 9 when their father was killed. In the aftermath of the crash, local electeds noted that speeding is commonplace in the area where Ramirez lived, due in part to its proximity to the George Washington Bridge and the Cross Bronx Expressway.

Video of the crash showed the driver of the vehicle braking after impact, then apparently driving over the victim, according to Vance’s office. No witnesses could identify Fabian as the driver, and the car was not registered in his name, the DA’s office said. But investigators with Vance’s office and NYPD produced sufficient evidence to indict Fabian on charges of leaving the scene and tampering with evidence.

Evidence tampering is a class E felony. Prosecutors sought the maximum sentence of three-and-a-half to seven years, according to Vance’s office. On Thursday, New York State Supreme Court Judge James Burke sentenced Fabian to three to six years.

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Charges Reduced in Manhattan Hit-and-Run Death of Charity Hicks

Scene of the Midtown crash that killed Charity Hicks. Image: WNBC

Scene of the Midtown crash that killed Charity Hicks. Image: WNBC

Charges have been reduced against a driver who allegedly killed a woman on a Manhattan sidewalk and fled the scene.

On May 31, 2014, Thomas Shanley drove a Dodge SUV onto the curb on 10th Avenue near W. 34th Street, striking a pole that fell on Charity Hicks, according to a criminal court complaint and Gothamist. Hicks, who lived in Detroit and was in the city for a conference, suffered injuries to her head and chest. She died weeks later. A second pedestrian was also injured.

Charity Hicks. Photo via Gothamist

Charity Hicks. Photo via Gothamist

The criminal court complaint said video reviewed by NYPD showed the SUV driver “swerve across two lanes of traffic and onto the sidewalk” on 10th Avenue. Shanley’s cell phone, which was recovered at the scene, indicated that the user was sending a text message at the time of the collision, according to the complaint.

Investigators found Shanley, who fled the scene on foot, in New Jersey and arrested him in August 2014, the Daily News reported. He was on parole at the time of the crash.

District Attorney Cy Vance initially charged Shanley with manslaughter and felony leaving the scene — class C and D felonies, respectively. However, the current charges against him are (class D) felony leaving the scene, criminally negligent homicide (a class E felony), and leaving the scene of an incident without reporting (a class A misdemeanor). Vance’s office declined comment on why the manslaughter charge was dismissed, as the case remains open.

In New York City, motorists accused in deadly hit-and-run crashes usually face a top charge of leaving the scene — assuming they are prosecuted at all — and are rarely charged for taking a life. So though the top charge in this case was reduced to felony leaving the scene, it’s noteworthy that Vance elected to pursue a homicide charge and succeeded in securing an indictment.

Class D felonies carry a maximum penalty of seven years in prison. Shanley is expected to go to trial in March. He has been in jail since pleading not guilty in January 2015, court records say.

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NYC Motorists Kill 2 Pedestrians and Critically Injure 2 Others in 3 Days

Giovani Romano was charged with failing to yield for fatally striking Alfiya Djuraeva at 20th Avenue and Bath Avenue in Brooklyn. He was not charged for taking her life. Image: Google Maps

Giovani Romano was charged with failing to yield for fatally striking Alfiya Djuraeva at 20th Avenue and Bath Avenue in Brooklyn. He was not charged for taking her life. Image: Google Maps

In four separate crashes since Thursday, at least two people have been struck and killed while walking, and two others were critically injured.

Last Thursday afternoon Giovani Romano hit 56-year-old Alfiya Djuraeva with a Buick while turning left at 20th Avenue and Bath Avenue in Bath Beach, according to the Daily News and WNBC. Djuraeva suffered trauma to her head and torso and died at Lutheran Hospital.

Romano, 74, was issued a desk appearance ticket for failing to yield, but was not charged for the act of killing Alfiya Djuraeva. The crash occurred in the 62nd Precinct and in the City Council district represented by Vincent Gentile.

Early Saturday morning, a BMW driver going the wrong way on 181st Street near Amsterdam Avenue in Washington Heights hit two people and a pickup truck, then fled the scene, the Daily News reported. A male pedestrian, 46, was killed. The second victim, a 46-year-old woman, was hospitalized. The deceased victim’s name was being withheld pending family notification, NYPD told Streetsblog.

Police charged Jonathan Segura, 34, with manslaughter, leaving the scene, and drunk driving, after Segura turned himself in, the News said.

Read more…

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Richard Brown: Probation for Hit-and-Run Driver Who Killed Kamil Gorski

The hit-and-run driver who killed Kamil Gorski got probation and $1,088 in fines and fees after DA Richard Brown dropped felony charges and allowed a misdemeanor plea deal.

The hit-and-run driver who killed Kamil Gorski got probation and $1,088 in fines and fees after DA Richard Brown dropped felony charges for a misdemeanor plea deal.

A driver charged with a felony for the hit-and-run death of a Queens pedestrian was sentenced to probation as a result of a plea deal from District Attorney Richard Brown.

Raul Reyes and a second driver hit 36-year-old Navy veteran Kamil Gorski on Metropolitan Avenue on February 3, 2015, according to Brown’s office. Gorski died at Elmhurst Hospital.

Brown did not charge the second driver, who remained at the scene. Brown charged Reyes with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury, which is a class D felony, and issued a press release saying Reyes “face[d] up to four years in prison.” Last December, however, Brown reduced the charges, and allowed Reyes to plead to a misdemeanor leaving the scene, which carries a maximum one-year jail sentence.

This week, pursuant to his plea agreement with DA Brown, Reyes was sentenced to three years probation, a $1,000 fine, and $88 in administrative fees for leaving Kamil Gorski to die in the street, according to court records. There is no indication that the court took action against Reyes’s driver’s license.

As Streetsblog reported last month, Gorski is one of several Queens hit-and-run victims whose killers avoided a sentence that included jail time, either because Brown accepted a plea or filed no charges in the first place.

If New York City hopes to get a handle on its hit-and-run epidemic, which results in thousands of injuries and deaths annually, district attorneys will have to send a message that such crimes will not be tolerated. Based on his record of prosecuting traffic violence over the last year, Brown earned a middling C+ in the Transportation Alternatives 2015 Vision Zero Report Card, which said the DA “seems uninterested in protecting the lives of constituents.”

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Felony Hit-and-Run Charge for Driver Who Allegedly Killed Can Reng Ma

A suspect was arrested and charged in the hit-and-run killing of cyclist Can Reng Ma in Sheepshead Bay, and NYPD is making exculpatory statements on the alleged driver’s behalf.

Can Reng Ma

Can Reng Ma

Junior Hicks was charged with one count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury, a class D felony, according to court records. WABC reported that Hicks, 31, is from Queens.

On Tuesday Ma, 54, was riding his bike on Avenue U, on the way home from his job at a nearby lumber supply company, when he was fatally struck by the driver of a rented box truck. Police arrested Hicks yesterday afternoon.

No charges were filed for the act of taking Can Reng Ma’s life.

WABC spoke with relatives and friends of the victim, who reportedly came to the U.S. from China seven years ago:

Around the warehouse, Can Reng was known for his work ethic, generosity, a humble soul who adored his wife, daughter, and teenage son.

“We do love him, we feel so sorry about him,” [co-worker Kimmie] Kwok said.

Police told the press the person who killed Ma may not have seen him — a ready-made defense, since under state law prosecutions for hit-and-run crashes hinge on whether it can be proven that the driver knew or had reason to know a collision occurred. The vast majority of New York City motorists involved in hit-and-run crashes resulting in injury and death are never charged with a crime.

After Hicks was taken into custody, an NYPD spokesperson told Gothamist a “preliminary investigation indicates that Hicks did not know he had struck someone.”

Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, issued a statement today praising police for making an arrest, and called on NYPD to stop “making unauthorized statements to news outlets even though evidence [is] still being collected.”

Read more…

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NYPD: Still Defending Hit-and-Run Drivers to the Press [Updated]

A video shows Can Reng Ma cycling on Avenue U as the truck driver suspected of killing him approaches from behind. Image: WNBC

Surveillance video shows Can Reng Ma cycling on Avenue U as the truck driver who killed him approaches from behind. NYPD told the press the driver may not have known he hit Ma because his truck was big and the crash happened too fast. Image: WNBC

Update: As of late Wednesday afternoon police have a suspect in custody and charges are pending, according to NYPD.

A hit-and-run driver killed a cyclist in Sheepshead Bay yesterday, and NYPD made excuses for the driver to the media.

Can Reng Ma, 54, was riding west on Avenue U near E. 9th Street at around 5 p.m. when he was hit by the driver of a box truck traveling in the same direction, according to the NYPD public information office and published reports. The driver did not stop.

Ma was the first New York City cyclist reported killed by a motorist in 2016. Image: WNBC

Ma was the first New York City cyclist reported killed by a motorist in 2016. Image: WNBC

Police told AMNY the truck was a 2016 Freightliner with Indiana plates, and the Post reported that it was a Ryder rental. The driver remained at large this afternoon, an NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog.

Ma, who came to the U.S. from China seven years ago, was on his way home from work when he was hit, according to WNBC, which posted video of the victim riding on the street as a large Ryder truck overtakes him. His death was the first reported cyclist fatality of 2016.

Locals told WNBC truck traffic poses a significant danger on this segment of Avenue U, where drivers double-park to unload. “Some days it is unbelievable what goes on over here,” one man said.

In New York City, most drivers who harm people and leave the scene are never charged with a crime. Provided police make an arrest, to win a hit-and-run conviction, state law requires prosecutors to prove a driver knew or had reason to know he hit someone and caused injury — a surprisingly high burden. Many cases are dropped, or are not pursued at all, once a driver claims he “didn’t see” the victim. Even the city’s recently adopted hit-and-run civil penalties depend on the drivers’ word.

Though establishing a hit-and-run driver’s knowledge that a collision occurred is crucial to seeing justice done for the victim, NYPD sources, as they have in the past, offered the person who killed Can Reng Ma a preemptive defense.

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Will Meaningful Hit-and-Run Reform Be on Albany’s 2016 Agenda?

Governor Cuomo has vetoed bills that would have set back efforts to reform state hit-and-run statutes.

For years, prosecutors and traffic safety advocates have asked Albany lawmakers to fix state law that rewards drunk drivers who flee the scene of a serious crash, since the penalty for hit-and-run can be less severe than the penalty for drunk drivers who stay at the scene.

Legislation passed by the Assembly and State Senate this year was intended to help by creating the offense of aggravated leaving the scene. But the proposed new law would have been all but useless, since it would have severely limited instances when the charge could be applied.

A coalition of prosecutors and advocates, including crash victims and their loved ones, had been calling for the bill to be amended or vetoed since last summerInstead of creating a complicated new offense, prosecutors want Albany to simply elevate felony penalties under existing law, by changing the charge for leaving the scene of a serious injury from a class E to a class D felony, and the charge for a fatal hit-and-run from a class D felony to class C. (Class E is New York’s least severe felony category.)

Hit-and-run crashes are an epidemic in New York City, and offenders are almost never held accountable. A Transportation Alternatives report released last week found that of 4,000 hit-and-run crashes in 2015 that resulted in injury and death, fewer than 1 percent of drivers were prosecuted. Only 50 cases were handled by trained NYPD crash investigators, with 28 drivers arrested. The tiny fraction of NYC offenders who are prosecuted often avoid severe penalties.

Prosecutors feared that adoption of the law as passed by the Assembly and State Senate would have deterred the legislature from enacting reforms long sought by law enforcers.

Cuomo vetoed the twin bills last Friday.

From a statement released Saturday by TA Executive Director Paul White:

Governor Cuomo recognized the need for stronger and simpler legislation without the serious flaws of these bills. Even the sponsors, State Senator Funke and Assembly Member Thiele, supported the veto of their own bills. The legislature must now produce a version that aligns the penalty of leaving the scene of an injury-crash with the penalty for DWI, and which removes the perverse incentive under current law. We look forward to seeing Governor Cuomo sign a stronger bill in 2016.

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How Seriously Does Queens DA Richard Brown Take Hit-and-Run Killings?

The hit-and-run driver who killed Kamil Gorski faces a maximum one-year jail term after DA Richard Brown dropped felony charges in favor of a misdemeanor plea deal.

The hit-and-run driver who killed Kamil Gorski faces a maximum one-year jail term after DA Richard Brown dropped felony charges in favor of a misdemeanor plea deal.

As family members rallied for justice for Queens hit-and-run victim Ovidio Jaramillo yesterday, District Attorney Richard Brown agreed to drop felony charges against another driver who left a pedestrian to die in the street.

Raul Reyes hit Kamil Gorski with a van on Metropolitan Avenue on the evening of February 3, 2015, knocking the victim to the roadway, according a press release issued by Brown’s office days after the crash. Gorski, a 36-year-old Navy veteran, was then struck by a second driver. He died at Elmhurst Hospital.

The second driver, who remained at the scene, was not charged. Brown charged Reyes with felony leaving the scene. Reyes “face[d] up to four years in prison if convicted,” the February press release said.

“The defendant is accused of hitting a pedestrian and then attempting to evade justice by fleeing the scene,” Brown said in the press release. “As a result of his alleged actions, the defendant now faces serious criminal charges.”

Despite the tough talk, on Thursday, according to court records, Brown allowed Reyes to plead to misdemeanor leaving the scene, which carries a maximum one-year jail sentence. He’s scheduled to be sentenced in January.

Brown has a record of going easy on motorists who kill and injure people and not taking cases to trial — when he files charges at all — even when the driver leaves the crash scene. Here are three more examples.

Read more…

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NYPD Doesn’t Want to Track NYC’s 38,000+ Annual Hit-and-Run Crashes

There have been 38,000 hit-and-run crashes in NYC so far this year, 4,000 of which injured people, the NYPD revealed at today’s City Council transportation committee meeting. Of 48 recorded “catastrophic” hit-and-run incidents, resulting death or serious injury, only 28 have led to prosecutions of any sort.

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer has introduced bills to increase civil penalties for repeat offenders and require NYPD to release more information about the results of hit-and-run cases. NYPD Inspector Dennis Fulton expressed support today for the former but not the latter.

Van Bramer said that increasing civil fines for repeat offenders could discourage dangerous driving by partly addressing the “perverse incentive for drunk drivers to flee the scene.” Currently, criminal penalties for fleeing the scene are less severe than the ones for drunk driving. City legislation can’t address that flaw — only Albany can (and Albany’s attempts have gone awry). But the city can adjust civil penalties.

In the case of repeat hit-and-run offenders, the bill would establish fines of “up to $1,000 if property damage results from the incident; $2,000 to $5,000 if a person is injured; $5,000 to $10,000 if there is a serious injury; and $10,000 if death results.”

Fulton was on board with that, but he opposed another bill requiring NYPD to include statistics regarding civil penalties in hit-and-run cases in its quarterly reports to the Council, saying the department lacked the “technical ability” to track details of hit-and-run incidents citywide.

In 2014, the City Council passed a law requiring NYPD to provide quarterly reports on hit-and-run incidents, but Fulton said that specifics that could be helpful in guiding preventive practices — such as time of day and location — are currently only tracked at the precinct level.

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Today: Urge Cuomo to Amend or Kill Disastrous Albany Hit-and-Run Bill

District attorneys and traffic safety advocates across the state are asking Governor Cuomo to kill a bill that would stall efforts to reform state laws that create an incentive for drunk drivers to leave the scene of harmful crashes.

This year the Assembly and State Senate passed a bill (A5266/S4747) to create the offense of aggravated leaving the scene, a class C felony. Prosecutors and advocates have repeatedly requested that lawmakers fix a flaw in state law that makes it more attractive for drunk drivers to flee the scene of a crash, since the penalty for drivers who hit-and-run is less severe than the penalty for drunk drivers who stay at the scene. But the new legislation severely limits when the more severe charge may be applied.

As passed by the legislature, the new charge may be brought only when a driver leaves the scene of a crash resulting in the death or serious injury of more than one person. It must be determined that the crash was caused by reckless driving, and the driver must be driving without a valid license due to a prior DWI or leaving the scene conviction, or have a prior conviction for leaving the scene or DWI in the last 10 years.

Prosecutors are asking instead that Albany elevate felony penalties prescribed by existing law, by changing the charge for leaving the scene of a serious injury from a class E to a class D felony, and the charge for a fatal hit-and-run from a class D felony to class C. (Class E is New York’s least severe felony category.)

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