In the aftermath of another civilian death at the hands of an allegedly intoxicated off-duty officer, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton says drunk driving cops are not a problem at NYPD.
Nicholas Batka, 28, drove onto the sidewalk at Bedford Avenue and North Eighth Street in Williamsburg at around 3:10 a.m. Saturday, striking Andrew Esquivel and three friends. Esquivel, a 21-year-old student, was killed. The other victims were all seriously injured.
Batka jumped into the passenger seat and claimed he wasn’t driving, according to reports, and bystanders had to surround his SUV to prevent him from fleeing. Court records said Batka “had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and the odor of alcohol on his breath,” the Times reported.
A transit cop who had been on the force less than two years, Batka was due back on the job at 7 a.m.
Batka was charged with assault, manslaughter, homicide, and driving while intoxicated. On Wednesday Bratton said that Batka had been fired. According to the Times, two other officers who were with Batka before the crash had their guns and badges taken as investigators look into whether they drove drunk that night as well.
Though Bratton said “drunken-driving episodes” involving NYPD officers occur around three times a month and that the department would take a “closer look,” he played down the issue.
“That is not a problem in the department,” Bratton said, “but we treat it very seriously.”
The death of Andrew Esquivel is not an isolated case. There is no known data set of off-duty police crashes, but here’s a sampling of mayhem caused by alleged or known drunk-driving NYPD personnel in recent years: