The cab driver who hit a cyclist and drove onto a Midtown sidewalk, severing the leg of British tourist Sian Green, will not be charged with a crime by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.
By declining to test state traffic laws in court, prosecutors ensure that victims like Sian Green will continue to be denied justice, while reckless drivers remain free to endanger lives with impunity. Photo: Daily News
Here is a statement from Joan Vollero, Vance’s deputy communications director, released to the media today:
“Following a thorough, two-month-long investigation by the District Attorney’s Office and the NYPD, we have concluded that criminal charges cannot be filed in this case. In making this determination, prosecutors who are specially trained in vehicular crimes reviewed all available evidence and took into consideration relevant sections of the State’s Vehicle and Traffic Laws. They conducted interviews with multiple eyewitnesses, the taxi driver, the bicyclist, and injured parties, reviewed all available video surveillance, listened to numerous 911 calls, and retrieved the taxi’s ‘black box’ data. We are sensitive to the trauma faced by Ms. Green and others injured in vehicular crashes, and notified the attorneys and representatives for all parties last week of this decision.”
The August 20 crash attracted international attention, and Vance’s office and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly announced investigations, which is never a given following a serious traffic collision in NYC. Cab driver Mohammad Faysal Himon pleaded guilty to a suspension summons and surrendered his hack license on August 23, but reclaimed it a month later.
According to published reports, Himon has a history or reckless driving, with three moving violations in 2011, including citations for running a red light and doing 65 mph in a 45 mph zone, resulting in nine points on his license. He was also involved in another crash that resulted in injury, reports said.
After reportedly arguing with a bike messenger, Himon drove a quarter of a block on a Midtown sidewalk with the cyclist on the hood before slamming into Green. He confessed to the media that he intentionally stepped on the gas before mounting the curb.
“The Green Family is shocked by this news, and disappointed,” said Green’s attorney Dan Marchese, in a statement. Marchese said a Vance assistant DA “indicated that failure to charge was due to lack of evidence regarding the taxi cab driver’s intent during the investigation phase.”
There is no doubt that New York State laws can make it difficult to convict drivers on charges of deadly recklessness. But by declining to prosecute even the most brazen acts of vehicular violence, and failing to mount a concerted campaign to reform traffic code, district attorneys are ensuring that victims will continue to be denied justice. And in this case it also means a dangerous driver remains on the streets.
Said attorney Steve Vaccaro, who represents victims of traffic violence, via email:
I am stunned by the decision not to prosecute for lack of evidence of intent. To prosecute the driver for recklessness or criminal negligence, it is not required for the driver to have intended harm. All that is required is that the driver be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to have behaved with respect to the risk of striking or injuring others in a manner that constituted a gross deviation from what was reasonable. The driver’s own public statements would seem to be enough. This outcome tells me we need new laws, and perhaps also new district attorneys.
We will have more on this case in the coming days.