Wednesday, February 15, 2012

NYC Hearings Today on Police Handling of Crashes

A local legislative body of New York City will be holding hearings today about how the city's police department is handling the reporting and investigation of pedestrian and cyclist crashes.

Appearing at the City Council hearing at 10 A.M. will be the parents of Matthew Lefevre who was killed by a hit-and-run truck driver in Brooklyn last October. The hearing will be held at 250 Broadway, in the 14th floor committee room.

A police investigation had found that Canadian artist Lefevre was hit by the truck because he tried to take a turn in front of the driver. They even tested his blood for alcohol after he was dead. The truck was found parked a few blocks away, more than a day later.

The owner of the truck claimed later that he was unaware he had struck and dragged a cyclist. Lefevre's mother, Erika Lefevre, made a legal demand for the police investigation documents through a Freedom of Information process, and found among other things that the surveillance video the police allegedly had secured that showed Lefevre at fault were not offered.

She did however receive in the package photos of herself and her family, and blood test results for Lefevre--not the driver, according to a report by John Farley in MetroFocus.

Farley's reporting details several other recent deaths of cyclists in the city as the result of what appears to be harshly careless driving, masked drunkenness, or worse. In several of the cases, like Lefevre's, and the now famous fatal strike of Marilyn Dershowitz, sister-in-law of attorney Alan Dershowitz, the drivers sped away claiming later and incredibly-- not to have known that they hit someone.

Michelle Matson who fortunately survived a hit-and-run in Brooklyn last year, which we reported in detail along with photos of her gruesome facial injuries, may attend the hearings, according to MetroFocus.  The automobile that struck Matson and her boyfriend that day was later found parked not too far away from the scene of the crash. The driver's statement to the police was simply that he had no idea who was driving his car that day because he had lost track of his keys.

At issue is whether the police are conducting fair and full investigations into these crashes. But it should be stated up front that those investigations need to be pushed by the Brooklyn and respective borough District Attorneys as well.

Those DA's are often disincentivized to go further if they do not have sufficient proof for a prosecution to set before a criminal judge. In this, the fault also lies with New York State case law precendent which has determined time and again, that a "Rule of Two" must prevail before a driver is charged with a serious crime.

That means two laws broken to a heinous degree, such as speeding at 75 mph in a 35 mph zone, and concurrently flying through a red light. Prooving two facts after the incident tends to be very difficult for DA's and they hate to have a string of unproven cases behind them--it isn't good for their careers.

Being intoxicated however, when you kill someone with your vehicle is the one instance that can land you jail time and heavy criminal penalties depending on the circumstances. So it was not surprising that cycling advocates have been conjecturing on ebikes, the electronic exchange, that the drivers in several of these hit-and-run cases left the scene so they could not be tested for alcohol levels.

1 comment:

Ajlounyinjurylaw said...

Thorough investigation needs to be submitted by police upon the occurance of an accident.