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Posts from the "Robert Johnson" Category

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It’s Still Legal to Run Over a Child on a New York City Sidewalk [Updated]

An 8-year-old girl run over on the sidewalk outside her Bronx school Friday was one of at least two New York City pedestrians killed by motorists over the weekend. A woman struck while walking to work in Brooklyn Sunday morning was the second victim. No charges have been filed in either crash. NYPD and the Post blamed the Brooklyn victim for her own death.

Rylee Ramos. Photo via Daily News

A driver fatally struck 8-year-old Rylee Ramos and injured several others, including two more children, on the sidewalk outside a Bronx school. No charges were filed. Photo via Daily News

On Friday afternoon, Sonia Rodriguez backed onto a sidewalk adjacent to PS 307, striking 10 people, according to reports. At least two victims, including third-grader Rylee Ramos, were students who had just been dismissed from school. From the Daily News:

Rylee and her friend, Genesis Rodriguez, were only paces away from the school’s front door along Eames Place in Kingsbridge Heights when a blue Honda Accord hopped the curb and hit them about 2:45 p.m. The 55-year-old woman behind the wheel then tried to drive forward but all that did was “hit more people,” said Eliasser Lopez, 11. “It was something out of this world,” Eliasser said of the horror.

When the driver finally stopped, Rylee was injured beyond saving, though some tried to give her CPR. The car hit the girl so hard it crushed one of her lungs, family members said.

“[Sonia] Rodriguez hit a chain-link fence,” the Daily News reported, “a wrought-iron gate and a parked vehicle before pinning little Rylee to a pole, police said.” 

Ramos was pronounced dead at St. Barnabas Hospital. Genesis Rodriguez was hospitalized, as was a 4-year-old girl and four women.

Video posted by the Daily News, embedded after the jump, shows the car backing onto the sidewalk as Rodriguez appears to accelerate. Friday’s incident was reminiscent of a 2013 crash in which a motorist hit five children on a sidewalk near a school in Maspeth. Several children sustained severe, life-altering injuries as a result of the Queens crash, and one victim died days later from a reported asthma attack. The driver, identified as Francis Aung Lu, was not charged by NYPD or District Attorney Richard Brown.

Rodriguez was questioned and released by police after the Bronx crash, according to the Times. Streetsblog has asked DA Robert Johnson’s office if charges are being considered. Update: A source with Johnson’s office says the crash is under investigation.

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15-Day Maximum Sentence for Unlicensed Driver Who Killed Bronx Senior

An unlicensed driver who killed a pedestrian in the Bronx last year was charged with only a traffic infraction that carries a nominal fine and a maximum 15-day jail term.

Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson charged an unlicensed driver with a traffic infraction for a crash that killed an 82-year-old pedestrian.

Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson charged an unlicensed driver with a traffic infraction for a crash that killed an 82-year-old pedestrian.

Nabaali Cletus hit 82-year-old Manuel Verdesoto with a Volvo as the senior crossed White Plains Road at Watson Avenue on the evening of May 15, 2013, according to reports.

photo from the scene showed two severe impact points to the destroyed windshield, and a dent in the hood, indicating that Verdesoto was thrown onto the vehicle with tremendous force. He died at Jacobi Hospital.

Police said Cletus, then 46, had a forged New York State photo ID and was not licensed to drive. Reports published soon after the crash said he was charged with possession of a forged instrument and driving without a license.

Cletus was not charged by NYPD or Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson for killing Verdesoto. Nor was he charged with aggravated unlicensed operation, a misdemeanor that normally serves as the default charge issued by city prosecutors when an unlicensed driver kills a pedestrian or cyclist.

Currently the sole charge against Cletus is operating a motor vehicle by an unlicensed driver, according to court records — an infraction that carries a maximum penalty of 15 days in jail and a $300 fine.

Court records say Cletus was in court most recently on July 24. He is scheduled for another court date in September.

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Bronx Hit-and-Run Driver Who Killed Abigail Lino Gets Six Months in Jail

A hit-and-run driver who killed a woman in the Bronx in 2013 will serve six months in jail.

Harlem resident Abigail Lino, 24, was crossing Bruckner Avenue near a Longwood club at around 3 a.m. last August 31 when Leroy Forest hit her with “a speeding silver SUV,” according to the Daily News:

Abigail Lino. Photo via DNAinfo

Witnesses said Lino’s body was thrown in the air by the callous driver before she came to rest in the center of the street. The driver sped off into the early morning darkness, police said.

“It’s hard to think about … we had just been inside having a good time. It’s really hard to believe,” said Ayalla Ingram, 24, who was walking with Lino moments before the accident.

“The car didn’t even slow down,” Taylor added. “It actually looked like it sped up (after it hit her).”

Lino worked for UPS and was a caregiver for her then-20-year-old sister, who has Down syndrome. She was also raising the young child of an ex, reports said.

Forest, of the Bronx, was arrested the day after the crash. According to court records, Forest pled guilty in May to leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury, a class D felony punishable by up to seven years in jail, and which also allows for no jail time, or probation.

Leaving the scene was the top charge against Forest. Last week he was sentenced to six months in jail and five years probation. It is not known how the sentence will affect his driving privileges.

New York State law gives some drivers an incentive to leave the scene of a serious crash. The penalty for hit-and-run is less severe than the penalty for drunk driving, and cases hinge on the courts’ ability to divine driver intent, which makes “I didn’t see her” a viable defense. Reforming the laws is one of the goals of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan, but Albany lawmakers have for years failed to pass legislation that would toughen hit-and-run penalties.

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Driver Who Killed Bronx Pedestrian Pleads to Leaving Scene

A hit-and-run motorist who killed a Bronx pedestrian in a 2013 crash pled guilty last week to leaving the scene, but could be sentenced to as little as probation.

Abigail Lino. Photo via DNAinfo

Harlem resident Abigail Lino, 24, was outside a Bruckner Avenue club in Longwood at around 3 a.m. last August 31, reports said, when a security guard warned that someone had a gun and she and others went running.

She was hit in the street by Leroy Forest, who was driving “a speeding silver SUV,” according to the Daily News:

Witnesses said Lino’s body was thrown in the air by the callous driver before she came to rest in the center of the street. The driver sped off into the early morning darkness, police said.

“It’s hard to think about … we had just been inside having a good time. It’s really hard to believe,” said Ayalla Ingram, 24, who was walking with Lino moments before the accident.

“The car didn’t even slow down,” Taylor added. “It actually looked like it sped up (after it hit her).”

Lino worked for UPS and was a caregiver for her then-20-year-old sister, who has Down syndrome. She was also raising the young child of an ex, according to reports.

Forest, of the Bronx, was arrested the day after the crash. According to court records, Forest pled guilty on May 1 to leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury, a class D felony punishable by up to seven years in jail, and which also allows for no jail time, or probation.

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Bronx DWI Pedestrian Killer Gets 90 Days and Six-Month License Suspension

A judge sentenced a convicted drunk driver to just 90 days in jail and a six-month license suspension for killing a pedestrian in the Bronx.

Thomas Riley, 23, was crossing East Fordham Road near Bathgate Avenue at around 4:20 a.m. on March 20, 2011, when 48-year-old Seth Johnson struck and killed him with a minivan, according to a Post story published the day after the crash.

Victim Thomas Riley and his son Julien. Photo via Daily News

Victim Thomas Riley and his son Julien. Photo via Daily News

Riley worked as a barber and had a young son. “My family is now torn apart because a drunk driver took his life away,” Riley’s sister told the Post.

Johnson was charged by Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson with manslaughter, homicide, speeding, reckless driving, leaving the scene, and separate counts of driving while under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Last December a jury acquitted Johnson of manslaughter, homicide, and leaving the scene, finding him guilty on one count of driving drunk and one count of driving while impaired by drugs and alcohol.

“As a prosecutor, I accept the verdict of the jury,” Bronx vehicular crime chief Joe McCormack told Streetsblog after the trial. “We brought what we felt were appropriate charges, and we did the best we could trying the case.”

Johnson faced a year in jail, but on March 28, Judge Nicholas J. Iacovetta sentenced him to 90 days, three years probation, and $870 in fines, according to court records. His license was suspended for six months. So unless the New York State DMV takes action to keep him off the road, Johnson could driving again before long.

From the Daily News:

“He will be in jail for less than three months and I have to live with a life sentence,” the victim’s mother, Aurea Rivera, said after Bronx Supreme Court Justice Nicholas Iacovetta read the decision. “I want the laws changed so that no one else has to suffer like us.”

Rivera, joined in the courtroom by nearly a dozen friends and relatives, read a statement before the court and called on Mayor de Blasio and other elected officials to toughen vehicular manslaughter and drunk driving laws.

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Bronx Motorist Convicted of DWI, But Not Manslaughter, in Pedestrian Death

A jury in the Bronx determined a motorist was impaired by alcohol and drugs when he struck and killed a pedestrian in 2011, but the jury acquitted the driver of manslaughter.

Thomas Riley, 23, was crossing East Fordham Road near Bathgate Avenue at around 4:20 a.m. on March 20, 2011, when he was hit by a minivan driven by 48-year-old Seth Johnson, according to a Post story published the day after the crash.

Riley was a barber who had a young son, the Post reported. “My family is now torn apart because a drunk driver took his life away,” said Riley’s sister.

Court records indicate Johnson was charged by Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson with manslaughter, homicide, speeding, reckless driving, leaving the scene, and separate counts of driving while under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

The reckless driving and speeding charges were dismissed. Last week a jury found Johnson guilty on one count of driving drunk and one count of driving while impaired by drugs. The jury acquitted on the manslaughter and homicide charges.

“As a prosecutor, I accept the verdict of the jury,” said Bronx vehicular crime chief Joe McCormack. “We brought what we felt were appropriate charges, and we did the best we could trying the case.”

To sustain a charge of vehicular homicide, prosecutors in New York State must be able to prove that impairment caused a motorist to operate a vehicle in a manner that caused death. Given the tendency of courts to side with motorists who kill, even while driving drunk, this is no small feat.

Four months after the death of Thomas Riley, Nassau County pedestrian Eddie Cotto was struck and killed by Robert Core. Though Core reportedly had a blood alcohol level of .17, a judge dismissed a manslaughter charge on the grounds that Cotto was also intoxicated. Core was convicted of DWI and aggravated DWI, and given a maximum sentence of one year.

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Abigail Lino, 24, Killed in the Bronx; Driver Charged With Leaving Scene

Friends gathered at a Bronx courthouse last week calling for justice for Abigail Lino, who was one of at least four New York City pedestrians killed by hit-and-run drivers in August.

Photo via DNAinfo

According to reports, Lino was outside a club in Longwood at around 3 a.m. on August 31 when she and others ran away after a security guard warned that someone at the club had a gun. From the Daily News:

[Lino], of Harlem, began fleeing the area with a group of friends across Bruckner Ave. near Austin Place, witnesses said. But the 24-year-old was halfway across the street when she was hit by the driver of a speeding silver SUV heading south.

Witnesses said Lino’s body was thrown in the air by the callous driver before she came to rest in the center of the street. The driver sped off into the early morning darkness, police said.

“It’s hard to think about … we had just been inside having a good time. It’s really hard to believe,” said Ayalla Ingram, 24, who was walking with Lino moments before the accident.

“The car didn’t even slow down,” Taylor added. “It actually looked like it sped up (after it hit her).”

Lino worked for UPS and was a caregiver for her 20-year-old sister, who has Down Syndrome, and was also raising the young child of an ex, reports said.

Police arrested Leroy Forest, of the Bronx, the day after the crash. According to court records, Forest was charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury, a Class D felony punishable by up to seven years in jail, and which also allows for no jail time, or probation. Leaving the scene is the sole charge against Forest — he was not charged by District Attorney Robert Johnson for killing Lino.

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Robert Johnson Charges Reckless Endangerment for Bronx Pedestrian Death

A motorist accused of killing a pedestrian in the Bronx has been charged with reckless endangerment by District Attorney Robert Johnson. Though the driver was allegedly breaking multiple laws at the time of the crash, he was not charged with a more serious offense under the so-called “rule of two.”

James Ruiz was allegedly breaking multiple laws when he struck a Bronx pedestrian. Photo: Daily News

The 55-year-old male victim, the first reported NYC pedestrian fatality of 2013, was struck at East Tremont and Mapes Avenues on the afternoon of January 5. Witnesses described a violent, high-speed crash. From the Daily News:

Horrified witnesses said the unnamed victim flew 20 feet after being hit by a red 1995 Honda shortly after 1 p.m.

“He landed twisted,” witness Cosmic Jones, 49, said. “His feet were up, but his face was down toward the pavement with blood coming from the head.”

The Honda, which had a smashed windshield and a human-sized indent on the driver’s side, was left on Tremont Avenue as investigators inspected the scene.

“The car was flying down the street,” said Dion Brannon, 26. “The guy was crossing the middle of the road, but by the time (the car) slowed down, it was too late.”

James Ruiz, 21, reportedly slammed into the victim hard enough to sustain a laceration to the head, possibly from the car’s shattered windshield.

Ruiz was initially charged with aggravated unlicensed operation, failure to exercise due care and criminal impersonation, according to NYPD. Online court records indicate that current charges against Ruiz are unlicensed driving, third degree aggravated unlicensed operation, false impersonation, reckless driving, and a top charge of second degree reckless endangerment.

Per New York State code, “A person is guilty of reckless endangerment in the second degree when he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person.” In lay terms, reckless endangerment requires proof that a driver was aware of a risk of seriously injuring someone else, according to attorney Steve Vaccaro.

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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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Sook-Ja Kim Killed by Motorist in Mosholu Parkway Median; No Charges Filed

Sook-Ja Kim was struck from behind by a motorist who drove across a wide median on Mosholu Parkway. Photo: Norwood News

A woman was struck and killed by a driver who jumped the curb and drove across a field near the Bronx Botanical Garden last weekend.

Sook-Ja Kim, 63, was in a wide grassy median that serves as a park area on Mosholu Parkway near Bainbridge Avenue when she was hit from behind by a motorist at around 3:45 p.m. on Sunday, March 17.

NYPD told the media that the driver, a 22-year-old man whose name was not released, had a seizure and “lost control” of the Honda sedan he was driving.

“I saw the car cross the highway and driving in the wrong direction. He was going like 100 miles-per-hour, yes. The guy was sick or something was wrong with the young driver,” said witness Marcelino Hernandez to the Norwood News, which published a thorough account of the crash.

The story says that on Saturday “a large group of children” played football on the field where Kim was struck.

“I cross here all the time with my kids,” Hernandez said about the area of the parkway at Bainbridge Avenue. “It’s not safe, you’re not suppose to play there. Nobody should be there. This roadway is very dangerous.”

Having learned that there was speculation that the driver had an epileptic seizure, Hernandez said he felt new laws should be created for drivers who take medication when they shouldn’t, or drivers who don’t take medication when they should.

Kim died at St. Barnabas Hospital. No charges were filed against the driver, and no summonses were issued.

Sook-Ja Kim was at least the third NYC pedestrian killed by a curb-jumping motorist in the last month. Martha Atwater was struck outside a shop in Cobble Hill by a driver who police said had a diabetic seizure. An unidentified woman was hit on a sidewalk in Kips Bay after two drivers collided on Third Avenue. No charges were filed for either of those deaths.

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