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Will DA Ken Thompson Investigate Killing of 14-Year-Old Nicholas Soto?

Following the vehicular killing of 14-year-old Nicholas Soto in Red Hook Monday morning, anonymous police sources were quick to blame the victim, though the crash happened near a school bus and sent Soto through the air, witnesses said. According to press accounts, NYPD won’t say if the driver who struck Soto was speeding through an area of Red Hook where drivers routinely endanger lives. Meanwhile, the local precinct community council is scheduled to meet tonight.

Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson. Image: ##http://www.ny1.com/content/politics/inside_city_hall/190291/ny1-online--brooklyn-da-candidate-thompson-responds-to-attacks##NY1##

Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson. Image: NY1

Soto was crossing at the corner of Lorraine Street and Hicks Street at around 7 a.m. when the unnamed driver, apparently westbound on Lorraine, slammed into him with a BMW sedan.

Photos from the scene show extensive damage to the right side of the car. The front fender was dented, the hood separated from the headlight bezel, and the windshield nearly punched through. Witnesses say Soto was hit with such force that he was propelled away from the street and over a nearby fence.

From the Post:

“He came running through here, too busy, trying to catch the [school] bus,” said Edward Austin, 54, who witnessed the tragic accident.

Austin said the boy was looking at the bus when [he] ran into the intersection and failed to see the car coming from the opposite direction.

“The car came down, he was moving too damn fast,” he continued, referring to the driver. “The poor kid was bleeding through his eyes.”

“We’re losing our kids out here because [drivers] think this is a damn highway,” Alfredo Otero, a local, told the Post. “This is not the first,” said another resident. “I seen three or four people get hit out here.”

Soto’s family and other residents of Red Hook Houses East, where the victim lived, told DNAinfo the corner of Lorraine and Hicks is “notoriously dangerous.”

Eddie Soto, Nicholas’ father, said his son’s death reflected the community’s need for safer streets.

“It’s not only about my son,” Soto said. “It’s about everyone else.”

“The driver of the BMW remained on scene and and was issued a summons for having his windows tinted illegally,” the Post reported. “Police would not say if the driver was speeding.”

It’s unusual for a New York City district attorney to charge a sober motorist who remains at the scene for killing, but it does happen. In January, Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson charged a driver with manslaughter for the death of a second driver in a crash that apparently did not involve alcohol. Last year Thompson’s predecessor Charles Hynes filed assault and homicide charges against the driver who killed 9-year-old pedestrian Lucian Merryweather and injured his younger brother, though the top charge was later downgraded to homicide. (In New York State, criminally negligent homicide is a class E felony, the least severe felony category.)

Unlike states where specific charges are prescribed for vehicular crimes, New York traffic law is highly subjective, and convictions normally depend on a prosecutor’s ability to convince a jury of a motorists’s state of mind. The probability of a serious charge after a fatal crash seems to increase when the driver’s actions are especially brazen. It must also be noted that some DAs are more aggressive than others when it comes to prosecuting vehicular crimes.

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NYPD Fails to Charge Driver Who Killed a Child in Red Hook This Morning

Witnesses say a driver hit 14-year-old Nicholas Soto with enough force to throw him away from the street and over a nearby fence. NYPD filed no charges. Image: Google Maps

Witnesses say a driver hit 14-year-old Nicholas Soto with enough force to throw him away from the street and over a nearby fence. NYPD filed no charges. Image: Google Maps

A motorist killed a teenager in Red Hook this morning.

Nicholas Soto, 14, was crossing Lorraine Street at Hicks Street at around 7:00 when the driver of a BMW sedan slammed into him.

From WNBC:

Witnesses said the force of the impact flung the boy up in the air and over a fence.

Millie Mendez said the sound of the boy being hit was so loud she thought two cars had collided. When she realized it was a boy, not a car, that had been hit, she said she couldn’t believe it.

“He was bleeding everywhere,” Mendez said.

Mendez and others told WNBC speeding is a problem in the area. “The cars come like they’re on a thruway,” Mendez said. ”They need a light, speed bump, they need something on this corner because this is dangerous right here,” said resident Edward Ulsalston.

Photos from the scene show the BMW with front end damage and a cracked windshield, signs that the victim was thrown onto the hood. Though photos and witness accounts point to driver speed as a factor, police told WNBC that “No criminality is suspected.”

Daily News reporter Rocco Parascandola, meanwhile, cited an unnamed police source who blamed the victim.

A 14-year-old racing to catch a school bus was struck and killed by a car in Brooklyn Monday morning, police said.

Nicholas Soto was rushing across Hicks St. at Lorraine St. just before 7 a.m. when he was struck by a 2004 BMW heading west on Lorraine.

Nicholas, who lived nearby, died a short time later at Methodist Hospital.

The driver remained at the scene and will not likely be charged.

A police source said the teen’s vision may have been partially obstructed by his hoodie.

“It appears to be a tragic accident,” the source said.

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The Weekly Carnage

The Weekly Carnage is a Friday round-up of motor vehicle violence across the five boroughs. For more on the origins and purpose of this column, please read About the Weekly Carnage.

Tiffany Delcia Moore struck and killed William Faison at 228th Street and 120th Avenue in Cambria Heights last Friday. She was charged for driving without a license. Image: Google Maps

Tiffany Delcia Moore struck and killed William Faison at 228th Street and 120th Avenue in Cambria Heights. She was charged with driving without a license. Image: Google Maps

Fatal Crashes (5 Killed This Week; 77 This Year; 4 Drivers Charged*)

  • Morris Heights: Edward Jenkins, 43, Killed in Hit-and-Run; Driver, Reportedly Known to Victim, Charged With Murder (News 12NY1News)
  • Cambria Heights: William Faison, 53, Struck While Riding Bike; Driver Charged With Aggravated Unlicensed Operation (Streetsblog)
  • East Flatbush: Dheyshawn Artope, 36, Struck on Motorcycle by SUV Driver; No Charges (News, Post)
  • Riverdale: Anthony Perez, 33, Killed After Crashing All Terrain Vehicle Into SUV (News)
  • Astoria: Dale Tulloch, 50, Killed in Car Fire on Grand Central Parkway (DNA)

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NYPD: 1,141 Pedestrians and Cyclists Injured, 11 Killed in Traffic in March

Image: NYPD

Image: NYPD

Eighteen people died in New York City traffic in March, and 3,829 were injured, according to the March NYPD crash data report [PDF].

As of the end of March, 33 pedestrians and cyclists were reported killed by city motorists this year, and 3,246 injured, compared to 45 deaths and 3,590 injuries for the same period in 2013.

Citywide, at least 11 pedestrians were fatally struck by drivers: two in Manhattan; one in the Bronx; four in Brooklyn; and four in Queens. Among the victims were Marisol Martinez, Kumar Ragunath, Roshard Charles, Marlene Baharlias, Pei Yao Wu, Ida Rosenblatt, Lisa Julian, an unidentified male pedestrian in Queens, a second unidentified pedestrian in Queens, and one unidentified pedestrian in Manhattan. At least one child and three seniors were killed by motorists: Roshard Charles, 3; Marlene Baharlias, 77; Pei Yao Wu, 82; and Ida Rosenblatt, 87.

NYPD reported no cyclist fatalities in March.

Across the city, 952 pedestrians and 189 cyclists were reported hurt in collisions with motor vehicles. Per NYPD policy, few of these crashes were investigated by trained officers.

Of 11 fatal crashes reported by Streetsblog and other outlets, no motorists were known to have been charged for causing a death. Historically, nearly half of motorists who kill a New York City pedestrian or cyclist do not receive so much as a citation for careless driving.

Six motorists and one passenger died in the city in March; 1,266 and 1,422 were injured, respectively.

There were 15,796 motor vehicle crashes in the city in March, including 2,799 that resulted in injury or death.

Download March NYPD summons data here. NYPD posts geocoded crash data here. Crash and summons data from prior months is available in multiple formats here.

After the jump: contributing factors for crashes resulting in injury and death.

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Unlicensed Driver Faces Wrist Slap After Killing Queens Cyclist William Faison

Tiffany Delcia Moore struck and killed William Faison at 228th Street and 120th Avenue in Cambria Heights last Friday. She was charged for driving without a license. Image: Google Maps

Tiffany Delcia Moore struck and killed William Faison at 228th Street and 120th Avenue in Cambria Heights last Friday. She was charged with driving without a license. Image: Google Maps

A motorist who was reportedly driving with a suspended license will likely get off with a slap on the wrist after she killed a cyclist in Queens last week.

Reports say William Faison, 53, was riding south on 228th Street in Cambria Heights at around 8:50 a.m. Friday when 26-year-old Tiffany Delcia Moore hit him with a Kia sedan as she drove west on 120th Avenue.

From the Post:

Craig Henley, a relative of Faison, ran to the scene.

“He tried to open his eyes to see me,” he said. “His mouth wasn’t moving. Then he started moving his mouth, like he was trying to breathe.”

Medics took Faison to Jamaica Hospital, but he couldn’t be saved. His brother Marcus went there to see his body and kissed his forehead, relatives said.

“He was a very good son. He took care of me,” Faison’s mother told the Post. “I don’t know how to feel. He was a loving son.”

The Post reported that Moore “collapsed in horror” after the crash, and “was not believed to have been speeding or on the phone.” She was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation.

“He would still be alive if she was not driving,” said Henley. “You do not drive on a suspended license.”

Aggravated unlicensed operation is a misdemeanor that stipulates that Moore drove without a license when she knew or should have known she didn’t have one. Third degree aggravated unlicensed operation is the default charge against unlicensed drivers who kill cyclists and pedestrians in NYC, and it’s the same charge police and prosecutors apply when an unlicensed driver turns without signaling. It carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.

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The Weekly Carnage

The Weekly Carnage is a Friday round-up of motor vehicle violence across the five boroughs. For more on the origins and purpose of this column, please read About the Weekly Carnage.

The Brooklyn precinct where two people were killed in a high-speed crash Monday had issued 54 speeding tickets this year as of March. Image: ##http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Death-Brooklyn-Car-Crash-Marine-Park-259868361.html##WNBC##

The Brooklyn precinct where a driver and passenger were killed in a high-speed crash Monday had issued 54 speeding tickets this year as of March. Image: WNBC

Fatal Crashes (6 Killed This Week; 72 This Year; 3 Drivers Charged*)

  • Forest Hills:  Elliot Mintzer, 67, Hit by Tractor-Trailer Driver Backing Up in Parking Lot (DNATL)
  • Canarsie: Motorcyclist, 26, Killed in Collision With MTA Bus (Post)
  • Williamsburg Bridge: Arben Hoti, 31, Falls Off Motorcycle Into Roadway (DNA)
  • Bayside: Ingrid Arcuik, 51, Drives Into Parked Tow Truck on Clearview Expressway (News)
  • Mill Basin: Christina Wipper, 18, and Philbert Martin Williams, 20, Killed in High-Speed Crash on Flatbush Avenue After Running Red; Two Others Injured (NewsPost)

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Manhattan DA Cy Vance Won’t Prosecute Cab Driver Who Killed 9-Year-Old

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance will file no criminal charges against the cab driver who killed 9-year-old Cooper Stock and injured his father in an Upper West Side crosswalk in January.

Cooper Stock. Photo: Barron Lerner via ##http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/24/treat-reckless-driving-like-drunk-driving/##New York Times##

Cooper Stock. Photo: Barron Lerner via New York Times

Lisa Belkin of Yahoo News reports that prosecutors met Wednesday with Cooper’s parents, Richard Stock and Dana Lerner.

“They told me there is nothing in the law right now that specifies that he can be charged with any crime,” Lerner said, describing the meeting. Under New York law, criminal charges can only be brought if a driver who injures or kills a pedestrian commits two misdemeanors at a time. Because the driver, Koffi Komlani, was charged with “failure to yield” but nothing else, he will face a penalty of up to $300 and three points on his license.

First, the “rule of two” is an arbitrary standard that 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. It has no statutory basis, and as a candidate for DA in 2009, Vance pledged to challenge the precedent in court.

Here is a passage that used to appear on a now-defunct page on Vance’s campaign web site:

There is no reason why two traffic violations are necessary in order to support a conviction of criminally negligent homicide. I view the “Rule of Two” as the result of case law which should be modified to reflect the reality that one vehicular crime is fully capable of killing. Although in recent years this notion has been applied by the courts in a less strict manner — it is indisputable that it does not take two violations to kill someone. Many violations — speeding, running a red light, or failing to stop at a stop sign are more than dangerous enough to take a life.

So why did Vance decline to pursue charges for this vehicular killing? As was the case when Vance failed to prosecute the cab driver who severed the leg of a Midtown tourist, the public is left to guess. “A spokesman for the DA’s office said that the agency does not comment on investigations or charges that are not brought,” Belkin reports.

Instead, Vance’s office referred to testimony it provided to the City Council in February: “It can be difficult for people to understand why a crash that seriously injures or kills someone is not always a crime. The reality is that often these cases do not meet the complicated legal requirements for criminal charges.”

It is difficult to understand why Vance is not prosecuting sober reckless drivers who injure, maim, and kill, especially since he refuses to say.

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Police Seek Hit-and-Run Driver Who Ran Down Pedestrian on Sidewalk

Via Gothamist: Early Saturday morning, a driver ran over a pedestrian on the sidewalk in Astoria inflicting serious injuries, then sped off, continuing to drive on the sidewalk. Police told Gothamist that the victim suffered a broken leg and concussion, and they’re looking for help locating the hit-and-run driver.

The collision at 30th Avenue and 45th Street was captured in this disturbing footage sent out by the 114th Precinct:

When we talk about Vision Zero, we’re talking about preventing violence like this on NYC streets.

If you have information about the perpetrator of this hit-and-run, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS, or submit a tip to the Crime Stoppers website.

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Curb-Jumping Drivers in Three Crashes Injured 15 People This Morning

The driver of a Department of Correction bus knocked over bollards on Canal Street at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge today. Photo: @Shmuli

Curb-jumping motorists were involved in at least three crashes this morning, resulting in 15 injuries, including a pedestrian who was hit on a Queens sidewalk.

The driver of a Honda pickup truck crashed into the front yard of a house at 49-33 Utopia Parkway at around 5:40 this morning, critically injuring a pedestrian, according to FDNY and Gothamist. One victim was transported in cardiac arrest, an FDNY spokesperson told Streetsblog, and another person refused medical attention.

At 8:37 a.m., the driver of a Department of Correction bus toppled bollards and ended up in the middle of a traffic island on Canal Street, at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge. Fourteen people were transported with minor injuries, according to FDNY.

Minutes later, a driver hit a bike rack and a subway entrance at Bergen Street and Sixth Avenue, just outside the 78th Precinct station house. Miraculously, no one was seriously hurt. One person at the scene refused medical attention, FDNY said.

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Hit-and-Run Drivers Killed Two People in NYC This Weekend

Drivers have killed at least five pedestrians and cyclists on Rockaway Boulevard since January 2013. Image: Google Maps

Drivers have killed at least five pedestrians and cyclists on Rockaway Boulevard since January 2013. Image: Google Maps

Hit-and-run drivers killed a pedestrian and a cyclist in Brooklyn and Queens this weekend.

Sunday night at around 9:30, a 40-year-old man riding a bike on Rockaway Boulevard near 90th Street was struck by the driver of a Mercedes van, according to reports. NYPD told the media the driver sideswiped the cyclist from behind and ran him over. The driver then stopped, exited the van to look at the victim, got back in and drove away, police said. As of this morning, NYPD had not released the victim’s name and the driver remained at large.

The cyclist was at least the fourth person killed by a driver while biking or walking in the 102nd Precinct this year, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog, and at least the fifth pedestrian or cyclist killed by a motorist on Rockaway Boulevard since January 2013. Yesterday’s crash occurred in the City Council district represented by Eric Ulrich.

On Saturday morning, the driver of a Nissan Altima hit Felipe Castro Palacios, 27, on Third Avenue near Seventh Street in Gowanus, outside the auto repair shop where he worked, according to reports. From the Daily News:

Palacios was repairing a Ford Expedition parked halfway on the sidewalk in front of Samba Transmission & Auto Repair on Third Ave. near Seventh St. in Gowanus when a black Nissan Altima slammed into him and two parked cars at about 7:30 a.m., cops said.

The mechanic was hurtled head-first into the back of a parked Dodge Venture minivan, blowing the back window out, witnesses said.

Police identified the car as a rental but had not located the driver as of Sunday. The crash that killed Felipe Castro Palacios occurred in the 78th Precinct, and in the council district represented by Brad Lander.

This weekend’s victims were at least the fourth and fifth hit-and-run fatalities of the year. Starting in July 2015, NYPD will be required to report to the City Council on hit-and-run crashes and investigations. Of 60 fatal hit-and-runs investigated in 2012, NYPD arrested just 15 drivers, according to Transportation Alternatives.

A bill to toughen penalties against drivers who flee the scene of serious crashes cleared the State Senate in 2012, but did not pass the Assembly.