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Driver Who Killed Charity Hicks Pleads to Homicide and Leaving the Scene

The hit-and-run driver who struck and killed a Detroit woman as she waited for a bus in Hell’s Kitchen pled guilty to homicide and felony leaving the scene. He will serve a minimum of two and a maximum of six years in prison, pursuant to a judge’s plea offer.

Charity Hicks. Photo via Gothamist

Charity Hicks. Photo via Gothamist

Thomas Shanley drove a Dodge SUV onto the curb on 10th Avenue near W. 34th Street on May 31, 2014, hitting a pole that fell on Charity Hicks, according to court documents. Shanley fled the scene on foot and was arrested in New Jersey three months later.

Shanley is the son of a deceased NYPD officer. He was on parole at the time of the crash, according to the Daily News.

A Detroit human rights activist who was in the city for a conference, Hicks suffered severe head trauma and serious injuries to her chest. She died after weeks in the hospital. The crash also injured a second pedestrian.

The criminal court complaint said video showed Shanley “swerve across two lanes of traffic and onto the sidewalk.” Shanley’s cell phone, recovered at the scene, indicated the user was sending a text when the collision occurred, according to the complaint.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance initially charged Shanley with manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death — class C and D felonies, respectively. Vance later dropped the manslaughter charge and added a homicide charge, a less severe class E felony.

As Streetsblog reported in a prior story on this case, in New York City it is unusual for a hit-and-run driver who kills someone to be charged for taking a life. It’s possible that the evidence — crash video and phone records — coupled with Shanley’s criminal history led Vance’s office to pursue a homicide conviction despite dismissing the original manslaughter charge.

On Monday Shanley pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, criminally negligent homicide, and leaving the scene without reporting, according to Vance’s office and court records.

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Vance Drops Right of Way Charge Against Truck Driver Who Killed Senior

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance dropped a Right of Way Law charge against a truck driver who killed a senior on the Upper East Side.

On the afternoon of October 10, 2014, Victor Hernandez hit 86-year-old Peter Romano with a Coca-Cola truck while making a right turn at the corner of Third Avenue and E. 96th Street, according to reports.

“The driver wanted to keep going, people had to tell him to stop,” witness Edwin Rios, told the Post. “People were yelling please stop, please stop.”

Police said Romano was in the crosswalk and was crossing with the signal. On October 11, the NYPD Highway Division announced that the driver was arrested for failing to yield.

Vance’s office conducted a 15-month investigation of the crash. Last week, prosecutors dropped their case against Hernandez without taking it to trial.

According to Vance’s office, prosecutors said in court that Hernandez was not using his phone at the time of the crash and was not impaired. Prosecutors told the court that Hernandez stopped at the light and that several people crossed in front of his truck before he proceeded to turn.

In explaining their decision to drop the case, prosecutors said they believed Hernandez’s visibility was hindered due to the truck’s design and because the victim was 5’5” tall. Prosecutors noted that Hernandez did not leave the scene, and said they could not conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that he was not exercising due care when he ran over Romano.

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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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Driver Who Killed Jean Chambers Off the Streets, No Thanks to DMV

Thanks to Manhattan DA Cy Vance and Judge Daniel Conviser, the serial reckless driver who killed Jean Chambers won't be driving for a while. But he could still have his license reinstated by the New York State DMV.

Thanks to Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance and Judge Daniel Conviser, the serial reckless driver who killed Jean Chambers won’t be driving for a while. But he could still have his license reinstated by the New York State DMV.

A driver with a staggering record of recklessness, who nevertheless had a valid New York State driver’s license, was sentenced to jail time and had his license revoked for the death of Manhattan pedestrian Jean Chambers.

Roberto Mercado hit Chambers while making a left turn at West End Avenue and W. 95th Street in the late morning hours of July 10, 2014. Mercado struck Chambers as he drove through the crosswalk and into the southbound lanes while facing north.

District Attorney Cy Vance charged Mercado with homicide — an unusually serious charge for a sober New York City motorist who remained at the scene of a fatal crash. Mercado was convicted at trial last November. Yesterday Judge Daniel Conviser sentenced him to one to three years in state prison.

At the sentencing, Conviser said Mercado was completely responsible for the crash, according to the Daily News:

“To me this is not an accident … It was a violent crime. It was a crime of extraordinary violence and the fact that you didn’t intend to kill Jean Chambers is fully accounted for.”

“As New Yorkers, we shouldn’t have to be fearful … that we can be mowed down by somebody who is acting with extraordinary carelessness and extraordinary criminal negligence.”

Mercado will be eligible for parole in eight months, the Daily News reported. Conviser revoked Mercado’s license, which in New York State means he may have his driving privileges reinstated after a prescribed period of time, pending DMV approval. Update: Conviser revoked Mercado’s license for six months, according to court records, which is generally considered the minimum for revocations.

“Due to this defendant’s criminal negligence, a beloved artist, mother, wife, and community member is dead,” said Vance in a press release issued Tuesday. “Roberto Mercado’s driving record demonstrates a history of carelessness and illegal, dangerous conduct.”

Vance was apparently motivated to bring the homicide charge in part because Mercado has a rap sheet of citations, crashes, and unlicensed driving dating to the 1980s. In a letter to Conviser [PDF] sent last December, Assistant District Attorney Michael Pasinkoff, who prosecuted the case, asked that Mercado be sentenced “to the maximum term authorized by law.”

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NYC Drivers Killed at Least 16 People on Sidewalks and in Buildings in 2015

A woman who was struck by an unattended taxi in December died from her injuries this week. The driver was not charged by NYPD or Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.

Suhuyn Park, 22, and her 21-year-old boyfriend were walking at W. 51st Street and Eighth Avenue at around 8:30 p.m. on December 30 when a yellow cab, a Toyota minivan, rolled onto the sidewalk and struck them both, according to DNAinfo. The cab came to a stop after it hit another taxi.

From the Post:

The 67-year-old cabdriver had gotten out of the car to help his passenger to the sidewalk when the vehicle suddenly started rolling, cops said.

Park, who lived in South Korea, died Monday at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Her boyfriend was treated for injuries and released.

No charges were filed. NYPD told the Daily News police “do not believe criminal activity played a role in the tragic accident.”

In 2009 a van left idling by a commercial driver killed toddlers Hayley Ng and Diego Martinez on a sidewalk in Chinatown. That driver was not charged by NYPD or former Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau. A state law named after Hayley and Diego created the offense of careless driving, but as is the case with the city’s Right of Way Law, adopted in 2014, NYPD barely uses it.

Park was the 16th person known to have been killed by a New York City motorist on a sidewalk or inside a building in 2015. There were five such fatalities in 2014, according to crash data tracked by Streetsblog. Two of the 13 drivers involved in last year’s crashes were charged for taking a life.

At least one other person died as a result of motorist negligence over the holiday break. On Christmas Eve the driver of a commercial van struck and killed a 77-year-old woman at E. 21st Street and Gravesend Neck Road in Sheepshead Bay, according to the Daily News. Police charged Zafrom Ghafoor with careless driving and failure to yield.

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Cy Vance: Homicide Conviction for Driver Who Killed Pedestrian in Crosswalk

DA Cy Vance won a homicide conviction at trial against the driver who killed Jean Chambers while turning into a crosswalk. Jean Chambers photo via DNAinfo

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance won a homicide conviction at trial against the driver who killed Jean Chambers while turning into a crosswalk. Jean Chambers photo via DNAinfo

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance has secured a homicide conviction against the driver who killed a pedestrian in an Upper West Side crosswalk.

Jean Chambers was crossing West End Avenue at W. 95th Street at around 11 a.m. on July 10, 2014, when Roberto Mercado hit her with an SUV as he made a left turn. Court documents and DNAinfo coverage indicate Mercado struck Chambers as he cut through West End Avenue’s southbound lanes while turning northward.

“I killed her,” Mercado told police, according to court documents. “I killed her. I was going eastbound and made a left. I thought I had a flat, people were yelling and pointing. I stopped.”

Court documents say that when police asked Mercado why he was driving north in the southbound lane, he replied, “I thought I was in the right lane.”

According to court records, in December Vance charged Mercado with criminally negligent homicide, a class E felony. A jury found him guilty last week. Assistant District Attorney Michael Pasinkoff prosecuted the case.

This case and the outcome are noteworthy. District attorneys in New York City generally charge motorists who kill people with homicide only if other aggravating factors are present, such as impaired driving, hit-and-run, or a police pursuit. In this instance Vance brought a case and won a conviction at trial of a sober motorist who killed a pedestrian and remained at the scene.

“I always expected that justice would prevail,” John Chambers, the victim’s husband, told DNAinfo. “I don’t think I’ll ever put this behind me.”

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NYPD: No Charges for Driver Who Killed Woman on Midtown Sidewalk

Southwest corner of Second Avenue and E. 49th Street, where a driver came to a stop after hitting three people on the sidewalk, pinning Mallory Weisbrod to a pole. Weisbrod died. The driver was not charged. Image: Google Maps

Southwest corner of Second Avenue and E. 49th Street, where a driver came to a stop after hitting three people on the sidewalk, pinning Mallory Weisbrod to a pole. Weisbrod died. The driver was not charged. Image: Google Maps

Update: Newsday identified the driver as Dimas Debrito.

A driver who hit three people on a Midtown sidewalk, killing a 24-year-old woman, was not charged with a crime by NYPD or Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.

On Monday August 10, at around 4:24 p.m., Mallory Weisbrod was walking along Second Avenue at E. 49th Street when a motorist drove a Mercedes onto the curb, according to published accounts. Weisbrod was pinned against a pole and suffered severe injuries to her legs. The driver hit two other women — ages 21 and 23, according to WABC — one of whom was also hospitalized.

Weisbrod died last Sunday at Bellevue Hospital.

The Daily News reported that according to police, “the 64-year-old driver lost control after being cut off by another car,” and photos of the scene show the car with extensive front-end damage — indications that speed was a likely factor in the crash.

The crash happened in the 17th Precinct, where as of July local officers had ticketed 82 drivers for speeding in 2015.

The driver’s name was not released, and NYPD made no arrests. NYPD told Gothamist the investigation was “ongoing,” which usually means the Collision Investigation Squad hasn’t completed a report. Right of Way Law violations excepted, NYPD and New York City district attorneys rarely file charges for a serious crash after the driver is released from the scene.

Of the Daily News, the Post, and DNAinfo, the Daily News was the only outlet to mention the driver in its coverage of the crash.

The crash that killed Mallory Weisbrod and injured a second victim occurred in the City Council district represented by Dan Garodnick, and in Community Board District 6.

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Driver Pleads to Felony in Hit-and-Run Death of Manhattan Pedestrian

Doohee Cho. Photo via Daily News

Doohee Cho. Photo via Daily News

A driver who killed a Union Square pedestrian pled guilty to a felony hit-and-run charge this week.

Doohee Cho, 33, was crossing Fifth Avenue between E. 15th and E. 16th streets in the early morning hours of September 28, 2014, when Macgyver Beltran hit him with a Chevrolet sedan, according to published reports.

Police arrested Beltran two days later, after releasing video of him speeding away from the scene in the visibly damaged car. Beltran had taken the car, a rental, to have it repaired, the Post reported.

Beltran, then 25, had an arrest record that included a reckless driving offense, the Post said.

According to court records, Beltran was charged with leaving the scene of an injury crash and evidence tampering, class D and E felonies, respectively. He pled guilty to both charges on Tuesday.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance did not charge Beltran for the act of killing Doohee Cho.

The top charge against Beltran — leaving the scene — carries penalties ranging from probation to seven years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on August 26.

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NYPD: Driver Error Caused Crash That Killed Mike Rogalle

NYPD determined that a driver pinballing down a Manhattan street caused a curb-jump crash that killed a pedestrian, but police and District Attorney Cy Vance filed no charges.

Mike Rogalle

Mike Rogalle

UPS delivery man Mike Rogalle, 58, was working his Financial District route on April 17, 2012, when an SUV driver ran him over on the sidewalk outside 15 Beekman Street. Rogalle was removed from life support days later.

Media reports said there were two adults and two small children in the SUV. The press identified the male adult passenger as an FDNY inspector, and said a woman was driving. The names of the people in the SUV were not reported in the press or disclosed by NYPD.

Last May NYPD rejected a FOIL request for documents pertaining to the crash. Vance’s office, responding to a separate FOIL filing, said it had no record of an investigation.

We appealed the NYPD FOIL denial, and in July the department sent us a one-page report on the crash, embedded below, with the name of the SUV driver and other information redacted.

According to the NYPD report, the driver, traveling westbound on Beekman, “struck the right curb then veered left” to avoid a “parked unoccupied vehicle” before “accelerating and mounting the south sidewalk,” striking Rogalle from behind and pinning him between the SUV and the entrance to 15 Beekman Street.

NYPD concluded that “operator error” caused the crash. According to the police report, the investigation was concluded on June 18, 2015 — more than three years after the crash and a few weeks after the department received the Streetsblog FOIL request.

Vance recently secured a felony indictment against a driver who injured a woman on the sidewalk near where Rogalle was killed.

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