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Posts from the "Charles Hynes" Category

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Wrist Slap for DWI Killer After Brooklyn DAs Decline to Charge Homicide

A convicted drunk driver was sentenced this week to probation, a nominal fine, and a six-month license suspension for killing a Brooklyn pedestrian.

Roxana Gomez

Shortly after midnight on July 5, 2013, 27-year-old Roxana Gomez was walking at Flatbush Avenue and St. Marks Avenue when Eric Nesmith hit her with a BMW sedan, according to witness accounts and the Post. Gomez, a Columbia grad student who worked for the human rights group MADRE, suffered massive head injuries and was administered CPR by an emergency room nurse who lived near the scene. She died on July 10.

The Post reported that Nesmith, then 25, of Newark, had a BAC of .126 — far above the .08 legal limit for driving — and ”admitted to cops he had consumed up to six Coronas” while celebrating Independence Day before the crash. FDNY first responders said he was speeding. Yet Nesmith was not charged with homicide by former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes or his successor Ken Thompson.

“An accident reconstruction expert concluded that alcohol was not a contributing factor in the death of the pedestrian in this case,” a spokesperson for Thompson’s office told Streetsblog in January.

Through a legal aid attorney, Nesmith pled guilty to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, an unclassified misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of a year in jail, three years probation, and a $1,000 fine. On Tuesday, Judge Raymond Rodriguez sentenced him to three years probation and fined him $500, with no jail time, according to court records.

For killing Roxana Gomez while driving drunk, Eric Nesmith had his license suspended for six months, the default penalty mandated by state law, and six months with an interlock ignition device installed on his car.

Outrageous as it is, the outcome of this case is not at all unusual. New York State law and the courts effectively favor DWI killers. To get a vehicular homicide conviction, prosecutors must prove that impairment caused a motorist to operate a vehicle in a manner that caused death. Due to the vagaries of state code, this burden of proof is often insurmountable, and it is therefore common for NYC prosecutors to decline to bring homicide charges against drunk drivers who kill pedestrians.

Nesmith is due back in court in June.

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Maude Savage and Akkas Ali, Struck by Motorists in 2013, Die From Injuries

The driver of this van barely slowed down as he turned into an occupied crosswalk, striking a senior. Image via Daily News. Video after the jump.

Charged for driving without a license, the maximum penalty against the motorist who fatally struck senior Maude Savage remains 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Image via Daily News

Maude Savage, the 72-year-old who was hit by a motorist in a Brooklyn crosswalk last November, died from her injuries. Though video showed Savage was crossing with the light, charges were not upgraded against the commercial driver who took a corner at speed, striking her a few feet from a grocery store she had just walked out of. After Savage’s death, the maximum penalty against the driver, who was charged the day of the crash with driving without a license, remains 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.

The crash occurred in the early afternoon of November 25 at Sutter and Euclid Avenues. In a security video, you could see Savage waiting for the pedestrian signal and looking both ways before stepping into the street. When she was midway across, the driver of a van covered in DirecTV logos entered the crosswalk, barely slowing as he made a left-hand turn. Savage tried to get out of his path, but the driver struck her with the front end of the van.

Robert Brown was charged by then-District Attorney Charles Hynes with third degree aggravated unlicensed operation, a misdemeanor that stipulates that he drove without a license when he knew or should have known he didn’t have one. He was also ticketed for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

Reports in the aftermath of the crash said Savage was hospitalized with head injuries. Though several media outlets covered the crash itself — stories were pegged to the DirecTV angle, though Brown was not a DirecTV employee — we found no follow-up coverage. However, the NYPD November crash report recorded one crash at Euclid and Sutter that month, which resulted in one pedestrian fatality.

Several times in recent years, prosecutors have pursued third degree unlicensed operation, a low-level misdemeanor, as the top charge against unlicensed drivers who kill New York City pedestrians. In 2011, Yolanda Casal and Laurence Renard were fatally struck by unlicensed drivers in separate crashes in Manhattan. Casal and her daughter were hit by a recidivist reckless driver as he backed up to get a parking spot; Renard was hit by a dump truck driver on an Upper East Side corner. In each case, Manhattan DA Cy Vance accepted a guilty plea to third degree unlicensed operation, and each motorist was fined $500.

Brown is next scheduled to appear in court on March 5, according to online court records.

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Drunk Driver Avoids Homicide Charge in Brooklyn Pedestrian Death [Updated]

A motorist who has admitted to driving drunk in a crash that killed a Brooklyn pedestrian was not charged with homicide by District Attorney Charles Hynes or his successor Ken Thompson. He was allowed to plead guilty this week to a top charge of misdemeanor DWI, court records say, and faces a maximum sentence of a year in jail.

Roxana Gomez

Roxana Gomez

At around 12:25 a.m. on July 5, 2013, 27-year-old Roxana Gomez was walking at Flatbush Avenue and St. Marks Avenue when she was hit by a BMW sedan driven by Eric Nesmith, according to witness accounts and the Post. Gomez suffered massive head injuries, and was administered CPR by an emergency room nurse who lived near the scene. She died on July 10.

The Post reported that Nesmith, 25, of Newark, ”admitted to cops he had consumed up to six Coronas at a family gathering” before the crash. His BAC was .126, the Post said.

According to online court records, Nesmith pled guilty Thursday to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, an unclassified misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail, a $1,000 fine, and a license revocation of at least six months.

It is unclear why this defendant was not charged for killing someone while driving drunk. Streetsblog contacted the Brooklyn district attorney’s office several times regarding this case, by phone and email, but public relations staff stopped responding to our queries not long after the crash. We have another message in with Thompson’s office concerning the Nesmith plea.

Nesmith is scheduled to be sentenced on March 25.

Update: We received the following statement from Thompson’s office: ”An accident reconstruction expert concluded that alcohol was not a contributing factor in the death of the pedestrian in this case.”

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Charles Hynes Brings Rare Felony Charge in Vehicular Killing of 9-Year-Old

Two motorists were charged for killing pedestrians in the Bronx and Brooklyn this weekend. The alleged driver in the Wakefield crash was charged with murder, and there’s a solid chance that if convicted he will face significant jail time. And though the outcome of the case is far from certain, District Attorney Charles Hynes brought a rare felony charge against the man who allegedly drove onto a sidewalk and struck a 9-year-old boy in Fort Greene.

Anthony Byrd was charged with a class D felony for the death of 9-year-old Lucian Merryweather. Potential sentences range from seven years in jail to probation. Photo: Daily News

Reports in the Times, the News and the Post say that on Saturday afternoon, Anthony Byrd, 59, hit two cars and a building after swerving to avoid two people in a crosswalk at DeKalb and Clermont Avenues. He then reportedly made a U-turn and drove the wrong way on DeKalb, struck a 28-year-old woman in a crosswalk, hit a parked vehicle, and drove onto the sidewalk a second time, striking Lucian Merryweather, his 5-year-old brother, and their mother, who were standing at the northeast corner of the intersection.

Lucian was pinned under the SUV and died at the scene. His brother was hospitalized in stable condition. The boys’ mother was not admitted to a hospital, reports said.

According to court records, Byrd was charged with assault, criminally negligent homicide, first and second degree reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, and a number of traffic infractions, including driving against traffic on a one-way street.

It is rare for NYC prosecutors to file felony charges against a sober driver who remains at the scene of a crash, but it does happen — at least in Brooklyn. In 2010, Hynes charged Michael Oxley with homicide for the killing of cyclist Jake McDonaugh on Flatbush Avenue. In 2007, Alfred Taylor was charged with homicide for the death of a cyclist in Bedford Stuyvesant.

More unusual is that Hynes brought an assault charge in this case. Assault is a class D felony, punishable by up to seven years, but which can also result in no jail time or probation. Relatively speaking, the more common top charge would be criminally negligent homicide — a class E felony, the least severe felony category, which carries a maximum penalty of four years in jail, and a minimum of no jail time or probation.

The rationale for bringing charges against a sober driver who remains at the scene is not usually defined, but there could be a link between serious charges and more brazen forms of recklessness. The Michael Oxley case hinged on the defendant running a red light. Saturday’s incident was a particularly chaotic and devastating crash, even by NYC standards, and allegedly involved wrong-way driving. Byrd is also a registered sex offender.

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No Charges or Summonses for Driver Who Killed Kiko Shao, 5, in Sunset Park

Witnesses say the driver of this SUV was listening to loud music when he hit Kiko Shao head-on, hitting her with a front and rear tire. Image: NY1

A driver who was reportedly listening to loud music when he drove over a 5-year-old and nearly hit her sister in Sunset Park yesterday has yet to be charged or ticketed.

An NYPD spokesperson said Kiko Shao was running northeast on 55th Street when she was struck by the driver of a Cadillac Escalade, who was southbound on Fifth Avenue. The crash occurred sometime around 3:30, as Shao walked with family members home from school, reports said.

NYPD would not tell Streetsblog the name of the driver, a 28-year-old male with a valid license. The spokesperson said the investigation is “ongoing.”

Said a spokesperson for Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes: “We’re looking into it.”

Published accounts are somewhat inconsistent, but for the most part don’t match NYPD’s version of events. NY1 and the Post say Shao was walking with her father. The Daily News says she was with her mother. Witnesses told the Post and News 12 that Shao was also with her sister.

“He [the driver] was not speeding,” said a witness, to NY1. “He just crossed the light. Maybe the light had just changed. I don’t know what happened, but he was just coming forward, and the little baby was standing right along nearby the 22 right there, and the front tire knocked her down, and then the rear tire ran over her.”

According to a witness quoted by the Post, there were two children in front of the SUV, they were walking — not running — and the driver was blasting his sound system as he approached:

Witnesses said Shao was walking with her older sister and following their father when a white Cadillac Escalade playing loud music hit the younger girl as her older sister dodged the oncoming car.

The driver of the car got out of the vehicle and stood watch as EMS performed CPR to the kid for about five minutes, said Mohammad Isa, 23, who witnessed the aftermath. “I just saw his face, he looked devastated.”

The Daily News devoted all of 119 words to this story. Reporters Thomas Tracy and Mark Morales seem open to blaming either the victim’s mother or the child herself, but again there is no indication that Shao was running.

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Charles Hynes Has Not Filed Homicide Charge Against Alleged DWI Killer

A motorist who allegedly killed a woman while driving drunk in Brooklyn two months ago has not been charged by District Attorney Charles Hynes for her death, according to court records.

Roxana Gomez

On July 5 at around 12:25 a.m., 27-year-old Roxana Gomez was walking at Flatbush Avenue and St. Marks Avenue when she was hit by a BMW sedan driven by Eric Nesmith, according to witness accounts and the Post. A Columbia grad student who worked for the human rights group MADRE, Gomez suffered massive head injuries, and was administered CPR by an emergency room nurse who lived near the scene. She died on July 10.

The Post reported that Nesmith, 25, of Newark, ”admitted to cops he had consumed up to six Coronas at a family gathering” before the crash. His BAC was .126, the Post said.

Nesmith was initially charged only with DWI, according to the Post and online court records. A few days after Gomez’s death, a Hynes spokesperson told Streetsblog that charges could be upgraded once the case was presented to a grand jury, which the spokesperson said could happen the week of July 15.

Nesmith had a court appearance Wednesday, and records say he still faces a top charge of driving while intoxicated, not manslaughter or homicide. He is free on $1,500 bail.

Online court records do not provide real-time updates, but they are reliable. Nevertheless, we asked Hynes’s office to confirm that DWI is still the top charge against Nesmith. We received no response. A law firm representing Gomez’s estate reached out to Streetsblog to get contact information for crash witnesses, but has since stopped communicating with us.

Nesmith’s next court appearance is scheduled for October 29.

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Hynes Brings Manslaughter Charge for Williamsburg Pedestrian Death

A motorist who allegedly struck two pedestrians in a fatal 2012 hit-and-run crash in Williamsburg was charged with manslaughter by Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.

Raul De La Cruz

Raul De La Cruz and an unidentified woman were crossing Borinquen Place near Keap Street in Williamsburg at approximately 5 a.m. last November 15 when they were struck by the driver of a Chevrolet sedan, according to published reports. The victims were thrown into another lane of traffic and were hit by a second driver.

De La Cruz, a popular neighborhood figure and 35-year-old father of two young girls, died within minutes. The second victim was hospitalized with serious injuries.

The driver of the Chevrolet fled the scene. The heavily damaged car was found abandoned five blocks away. Police later arrested Adam Recio, then 27, who was charged with leaving the scene and driving without a license. The driver of the second vehicle was not charged.

A month after the crash, the list of charges against Recio included manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, assault, two counts of reckless endangerment, three counts of leaving the scene, reckless driving, and driving without a license, according to online court records. His next scheduled court date is August 16.

Manslaughter is a Class C felony, with possible sentences ranging from probation to 15 years in prison. It is relatively rare for city district attorneys to prosecute a sober motorist — even one accused of leaving the scene — for manslaughter for the death of a pedestrian or cyclist, but it’s not unheard of. Recio is accused of leaving two people to die in the street. The Daily News reported that, according to police, he had prior arrests for other alleged criminal offenses.

Last August, Hynes charged Javier Hernandez with manslaughter, leaving the scene, reckless driving, and speeding for the death of pedestrian Alberto Serrano.

We are following this case and will post updates as it develops.

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Motorists Take the Lives of Human Rights Worker and Senior in Brooklyn

A senior was killed by a motorist in Bensonhurst this weekend, and a Prospect Heights pedestrian who was struck by an alleged drunk driver earlier this month has died from her injuries.

Roxana Gomez

On July 5 at around 12:25 a.m., Roxana Gomez was walking at Flatbush Avenue and St. Marks Avenue when she was hit by a BMW sedan driven by Eric Nesmith, according to witness accounts and the Post. The Post said Nesmith hit Gomez “a split second after the car in front of him swerved around her.”

Gomez suffered massive head injuries, and was administered CPR by an emergency room nurse who lives near the scene. She died on July 10.

Gomez, 27, was a Columbia grad student who worked for the human rights org MADRE.

Nesmith, 25, of Newark, was charged with DWI, according to the Post and online court records. The Post reported that Nesmith ”admitted to cops he had consumed up to six Coronas at a family gathering” before the crash. His BAC was .126, the Post said.

As of now, Nesmith has not been charged for Gomez’s death. A spokesperson for the office of District Attorney Charles Hynes said charges against him could be upgraded this week.

On Saturday at approximately 9:05 p.m., 79-year-old King Fong was struck by a motorist at Bay Parkway near 72nd Street. From the Post:

A 79-year-old woman talking on her cellphone and crossing against the light was fatally struck by a car just one block from her Bensonhurst home, police sources said today.

The driver remained at the scene, and detectives said no criminality was suspected.

When a pedestrian or cyclist is killed by a sober motorist who stays at the scene, NYPD tends to leak only those details that point to the blame-worthiness of the victim. As usual, the Post repeats this information without question, and makes no mention of other possible contributing factors, such as how fast the driver was traveling at the time of the collision.

Older pedestrians suffer disproportionately from traffic violence in NYC, and according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog, Fong was at least the third pedestrian age 60 or older to die in traffic in the 62nd Precinct since last December. You won’t find those details reported in the Post either.

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Will the “Rule of Two” Trigger Hynes Probe Into the Death of Felix Coss?

While the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau looks into the death of Felix Coss, the school teacher who was struck and killed by an officer driving a police vehicle in Williamsburg, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes has yet to launch his own investigation.

Felix Coss. Photo via DNAinfo

Coss, 61, was crossing Broadway at Hooper Street at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, in a crosswalk with the signal, when he was hit by Officer Paula Medrano, who was driving a marked van from the 90th Precinct, according to reports and photos of the scene. Medrano was making a left turn and “failed to see” the victim, the Post said.

DNAinfo and the Daily News reported that, according to witnesses, Medrano was seen talking on a cell phone when she hit Coss. From DNAinfo:

After eyewitnesses told investigators that they saw Medrano talking on her cell phone at the time of the crash, officers with Internal Affairs asked her to hand it over, sources said.

Medrano, who was wearing civilian clothes at the time of the crash, refused, and investigators have subpoenaed the records, law enforcement sources said. She had not been charged as of Monday afternoon.

The Daily News also reported today that Internal Affairs has subpoenaed Medrano’s phone records.

Despite NYPD’s initial assessment that no laws were broken prior to the collision, it seems there were at least three potential violations: careless driving, failure to yield to a pedestrian, and distracted driving.

Theoretically, this would be enough to trigger the so-called “rule of two,” an arbitrary standard which holds that a New York State motorist who is breaking at least two traffic laws at the time of a crash may be charged with criminal negligence. But it remains to be seen whether the DA will get involved. For now, said Hynes’s office, “[I]t’s an Internal Affairs investigation.”

It would be easy to assume that Officer Medrano will be given special treatment, but it’s highly unusual to hear of NYPD subpoenaing phone records after a deadly crash. If anything, based on reports, it appears NYPD is investigating this crash more thoroughly than most fatalities involving a sober driver. It probably doesn’t hurt that the story is getting sustained media coverage, given the distracted driving peg and the fact that Coss was a well-known and popular figure.

All of which serves to remind how little attention is paid to most NYC pedestrian and cyclist deaths, and how few are pursued by police and prosecutors. “Rule of two” notwithstanding, only once in recent memory — a case brought by Hynes — has a sober motorist who was not fleeing police and who remained at the scene faced criminal charges for causing the death of a New York City pedestrian or cyclist.

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Motorist Havoc: Two Dead, Five Hurt, Kids in Critical Condition, No Charges

A pedestrian and a cyclist are dead after a series of crashes in Brooklyn and the Bronx in which motorists also injured five other people. Three of the victims were teenagers. One crash left two young boys in critical condition. No charges are known to have been filed by NYPD or DAs Charles Hynes and Robert Johnson.

Zuleimi Torres. Photo: WEbook

On Friday afternoon, 16-year-old Zuleimi Torres was one of three people struck by the driver of an SUV on the Grand Concourse near Mt. Eden Parkway. From NY1:

Eyewitnesses said the car was going erratically down Grand Concourse, hit one pedestrian and then kept going and hit the other two pedestrians.

“He didn’t stop, he hit the first person, he did not stop. He just keep going and then we see the second one again got hit. We said, ‘Oh!’” a bystander said.

An off-duty officer arrested the driver as he tried to leave the car, but a breathalyzer test showed that the driver had no blood alcohol content.

Torres suffered a brain injury and died at St. Barnabas Hospital. Her friend, also 16, and the third victim, a 51-year-old woman, were hospitalized in stable condition.

Citing anonymous police sources, the Post reports that the driver “is not suspected of a crime,” and a “medical condition may have contributed” to the crash. ”Sources say the driver has a mental condition,” according to News 12. “Investigators say the driver will not face charges.”

In another crash early Sunday, an unidentified cyclist was killed by a livery cab driver in Crown Heights. From the Post:

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