Details and Questions Emerge in Brooklyn Cyclist Deaths



Craig Murphey

The deaths of two Brooklyn cyclists just hours apart yesterday have resulted in a homicide charge and an outpouring of grief for a man friends describe as "a truly thoughtful and selfless individual." Friends of one of the victims are also questioning the official account of his death.

City dailies report that Williamsburg resident Alfred Taylor, 41, has been charged with criminally negligent homicide for killing an as-yet-unidentified cyclist on Fulton Street in Bed Stuy around 6 a.m. Thursday. Police say Taylor was driving a speeding van when he struck the 25-year-old cyclist, whose name is being withheld pending notification of relatives.

As Streetsblog readers well know, it is virtually unheard of for a driver to face a charge of any sort after hitting a cyclist or pedestrian, as long as the driver is sober and stays at the scene. We will keep an eye on this case as it progresses.

Meanwhile, no charges were filed in the death of 26-year-old Craig Murphey, who according to police and media reports was hit by a turning gas truck just after 4 a.m. yesterday while riding southbound in the northbound lane of Union Avenue at Ten Eyck Street.

But Elizabeth Weinberg, a friend of Murphey’s, tells Streetsblog that doesn’t make sense:

We know for a fact that he was coming from Lorimer (at Broadway) at that time (dropping off our friend) and heading to his place on South
3rd in Brooklyn, so he had to have been going NORTH on Union Ave, not
south like the police report said
. There is no way Craig would be
riding against traffic and he had no reason to head back down in the
opposite direction from home. He rode to work everyday in Harlem from
Brooklyn; he knew what he was doing.

Murphey did social work with the West Harlem Action Network Against Poverty and was reportedly a member of Right Rides, a group that provides late-night rides and walks home to GLBT populations vulnerable to assault. Friends have dedicated a Flickr photo pool to Murphey, and are directing donations made in his name to WHANAP.

Photo of Craig Murphey courtesy Elizabeth Weinberg via Flickr

  • Gizler

    These are tragic deaths that have a lot of people shellshocked. I hope that there is a thorough investigation in both cases. It is encouraging that at least one of the incidents is being taken seriously by authorities.

  • aroundthewayboy

    That photo of Craig is heartbreaking.

    I wonder how one could go about pressuring the police to reopen, investigate, and reclassify CM’s death as criminally negligent homicide. That murdering trucker has a huge incentive to lie about his reckless driving, and all the evidence suggests he lied through his teeth.

    As a start, I have sent Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and Council Member Diana Reyna letters urging them to do something to prevent these vehicular homicides. That section of Union is so dangerous — huge trucks regularly speed onto the BQE and play ‘chicken’ with cyclists and pedestrians.

  • Donovan

    Craig was a great person. He will be missed by everyone who knew him.

  • sallycj

    I’m so sorry that these two young people were killed. I’m glad I didn’t know both of them because I knew Craig and I am as heartbroken as I could possibly stand to be. What a loss, especially for all the people who benefited from his antihunger activism.

  • Matt

    I’m so glad to read the “new” account of what happened to Craig. I’ve known Craig for nearly 10 years, from back in Mass, and it just didn’t make sense when we read what happened. He was one of the smartest people I know, and the way they said he was taking chances just didn’t make sense. Hopefuly we’ll learn the truth.

  • Jamie

    I know I shouldn’t dwell on it, but I can’t stop thinking about that. There is no conceivable reason for him to have been riding south. He was on his way to his house, which was north of my house. The only thing I can think of is he realized he forgot his keys or something and was coming back to sleep at my place.

  • andy

    thanks eliz

  • Sarah Goodyear

    What is so frightening is the idea that we might never know what happened. That a driver responsible for a death could just lie and get away with it.

    It could happen to any of us when we’re walking or cycling.

    In the absence of witnesses, surely a thorough forensic examination of the scene might yield some clues to what really happened. But are such examinations done routinely unless the driver is drunk?

    Instead, because of the police prejudice in favor of drivers, the driver’s story becomes the official story. The person who has lost his or her life is silenced forever and in effect blamed for the crash.

  • Tom Robbins

    Bullshot.
    He was going the wrong way.
    If a car was doing the same thing … the same result would have happened. More tin crumpled.
    And WTF is a guy doing on an bicycle at 4am probably without lights …?

  • Gargamel Tralfaz

    WTF is a person doing driving a car at 4 am? Why would anyone do that? And what the heck are people doing out at 4 am? Maybe we should have the City Council pass a law that everyone needs to be tucked into bed by midnight.

    Tom Robbins as you can see your illogic is stunning. I rode my bike home over the Brooklyn Bridge the other day at 3 am. Why? Because that is how I get around. I saw plenty of other drivers doing the same.

    Thanks for being so sensitive.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Hear, hear, Gargamel! Tom’s question is unfortunately too common as people seek to blame the victim in these incidents. Apparently motorists have a free pass to hit any cyclist they see on the road after midnight. Here’s a similar case from Wednesday morning, where Newsday asks what a cyclist was doing on the road at 4AM, but not what the motorist who killed her was doing:

    http://www.newsday.com/news/local/longisland/ny-litraf1018,0,3483935.story?coll=ny_home_rail_headlines

  • Faztral

    Tralfaz, did you have the proper lights?
    I would not ride my bicycle or car after dusk unless I follow the vehicle and traffic laws — which require lighting.

  • leah

    craig’s friends are having a ride to honor him today at 5 pm on the brooklyn side of the williamsburg bridge. it would be nice to have people come out and pay their respects. he did an amazing amount of positive work in many different communities, and it’s a shame to his memory to play this blame-the-victim game. craig volunteered his time to make the streets safer in his neighborhood. we shouldn’t ask what he was doing out at 4 am, we should ask why anyone should not be able to get home safely at 4 or any other time.

    http://williamsboard.com/topic/48107/&r=41

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    I love how Faztral and Tom are so quick to make assumptions about Murphey’s cycling habits. I always use a light and reflector and wear a reflective vest when I cycle after dark. I’m not going to assume that Murphey was riding without a light unless there’s some evidence for it. You might just as well assume that the gas truck had a broken headlamp.

  • Malcats

    First as a motorist with a spouse who uses his bike for transportation to and from work from Brooklyn to Manhattan, I find these recent deaths incredibly disturbing. I am amazingly sensitive to both sides. I do not want to loose my spouse to a reckless driver and we all know that there are plenty of them out there. I have encounter tailgaters at 7:30am when I am driving my child to school; drivers who do not honor the stop signs that go up on school buses as they load/unload; and drivers that go through red lights because they are tired waiting – just to name a few.

    By he same token, I have also encountered numerous cyclist who do not obey the traffic laws: running red lights endangering the lives of both drivers and pedestrians; cyclist who do not wear helmets; not to mention the numerous riders who figure eight their way between cars as they navigate traffic; and yes, there are those that ride against traffic.

    The profile of this city is changing. Cycling is a change for the better and should be embraced and respected by all. The facts are that city officials and lawmakers must make cycling safe for everyone who lives in this city. The traffic laws should be enforced for both cyclist and motorist! This is serious business and a lot more people are going to die in horrible accidents unless this city takes these changes seriously. They need to put into place the support needed to make cycling work without loss of life, creating systems, laws; an infrastructure and penalties for lawbreakers that reflect the gravity of this situation.

    Perfect example: What appears to be the installation of biking lane to Bedford Avenue – great! It is needed and there is enough road there for every one. But, let us see how this works when NYPD/Traffic Enforcement does not establish a presence to enforce a) no double parking on the left side b) drivers giving the cyclist the right of way to that lane and finally c) the speed limit! ( drivers use this route as if were a free way) and the left side of Bedford has intersections that encounter major turning traffic. Should a cyclist get hit on this road they are going to get mowed down!

    I can not begin to wonder what happened in these to cases, but I do know that one should die like this and we all as neighbors and citizens should take care of each other by being thoughtful, obey the traffic laws and drive and ride safely – no one is entitled to the roadways!

  • sarah

    I’m very sorry from the bottom of my heart to everyone who was close to craig or was touched by him in some way. as a former brooklyner it’s hard to swallow that no one is being held responsible for his death. my very close friend Josh Crouch (also from brooklyn) died a little over a year ago in an apparent hit-and-run homicide, and to date no one has done anything to find his killer or killers. My thoughts go out to Craig’s family and friends and hopefully we can find the person who did this.

  • Richard Rosenthal

    The WABC/Ch. 7 report stated the cyclist was riding the wrong direction and was trying to beat the truck to the intersection.

    Something rather fundamental is missing from the WABC piece…although it may be what is missing is no more than good journalism: A statement by a witness or witnesses.

    Bad journalism: “The cyclist was going the wrong way and was racing the truck to the intersection.”

    Good journalism: “According to (NAME), who witnessed the collision the cyclist was going the wrong way and seemed to be racing the truck to the intersection.”

    Good journalism: “According to (NAME), the truck driver, the cyclist was going the wrong way and appeared to be racing him to the intersection.”

    However, inasmuch as the collision took place at 4:15AM, it is likely there were no witnesses. Likely, the reported statement was the self-exculpating statement of the truck driver who would have a reason to hold himself blameless. The WABC piece should have stated, “According to the driver….” (Note the driver was not named.)

    Isn’t it peculiar that in fatal cyclist-driver collisions, when there is only the statement of the survivor to go on, it is always the dead cyclist’s fault?

    Consider the killing of 59 year old cyclist/bank examiner Jerome Allen at the driving hands of 23 year old Anthony Tasso, Jr., who had his license suspended and was driving his uncle’s Cadillac SUV in Staten Island. There was no witness: the implications of Tasso’s reported statements were preposterous…yet they were accepted by the all too credulous and all too willingly credulous police?

    The police and the WABC reporter said the cyclist WAS racing the truck. How would they know other than that is what the truck driver said? In fact, the driver wouldn’t know: only the cyclist would KNOW he was racing the truck. But for the truck driver to have said the cyclist was racing his truck, then he must have seen the cyclist before the intersection and before striking him. That would suggest the driver was not entirely blameless even if the cyclist was riding the wrong way.

    Was there a thorough investigation of the cyclist’s killing (as there seems not to have been of Allen’s)? Is it possible a truck driver on a deserted street at 4:15AM was speeding and went through a red light? Some do, you know.

  • Spud Spudly

    No evidence = no wrongdoing. Speculate all you want, but if the driver was the only witness then nothing’s going to happen to him unless there’s forensic evidence or accident reconstruction evidence to the contrary. Was the driver speeding or did he go through a red light? It’s only speculation unless the driver comes forward and says that yes, he was speeding and/or went through a red light and/or he saw the cyclist the whole time and thought it would be fun to just run him over.

    Since we know absolutely nothing about what happened it is indeed a shame to play the “blame the victim” game. It’s also not right to blame the truck driver. Fact is, we just don’t know.

  • kitacharm

    my deepest condolences to the families and friends of both victims.

    i lived on the corner of union & ten eyck last year and this is not the only accident that has occured there. it is a dangerous cross street and the speed limit is not enforced by local authorities? there is a stop light at the corner and alot of trucks run the lights late at night. i myself was almost hit by a delivery truck.

    family & friends should ask the police to install speeding cameras & video cameras at this corner and other areas around williamsburg, bushwick, under the bqe & along the williamsburg bridge. maybe an organization in craig’s name could start the important installation of these cameras. crime in our area is one the rise rapidly.

  • kitacharm

    btw, craig was mowed downed just 4 blocks from the police station which is at Union & Montrose. community board meetings must be held on the this matter.

    http://www.cb1brooklyn.org/

    also, if anyone remembers Monica Henk, she too was on a motorcyclist coming off the bqe onto flushing avenue, and was a victim of a hit & run. she was killed on April 8, 2007 by someone driving an suv. The driver of the vehicle was never caught. At this time, the best description anyone has about the vehicle was that it was a black SUV. ****update, Police said they believe it was a 95-97(year) black S-10 Blazer missing a front bumper****The accident occurred on the corner of Kent & Flushing Ave. in Brooklyn, New York at about 7am on Saturday, April 7th, 2007.

    If you have any information about this accident or the vehicle in question, please contact Dan Henk at (917) 554-1341 or call New York State Crimestoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.

    i guarantee justice will be served when video & photo cameras around our neighborhoods & dangerous intersections are installed. it has been successful in philly, downtown baltimore & los angeles.

  • Luo Dogg

    When something like this happened it is always easy to blame the drive because he is the one that walks away in most cases. Yet on this page there seems to be a lot of witnesses. Wow that is amazing. I hope your all on the police report which has not even officially come out yet. People want to write the congressmen and Senators but yet most were tucked away in bed with this happened. Shame on you. You’re the one that is reckless. The news reports was just a statement by police. That is just wrong to pass judgment. It is always hard when you loss someone you love or care about but the fact is that none of us were there.

    I am a driver and I am also a cyclist. Just the other day I was coming home from the movies and this idiot on a bike ran the red light and was almost hit by the car in front of me. If the person on the bike was hit and hurt or killed most would have pass judgment on the driver just because the guy was on a bike.

    On the other had as a cyclist I must say there are some crazy drivers but I am not exempt from following the laws just like a motorist. R.I.P. to Crag and to the rest of us lets work together on how we can make the streets as safe and possible rather then become a lynch mob. Maybe a web site where we can post ideas and the city could read them. Lets honor the good things that this young man did rather then judge events that we are not witness to.

  • Sad but not Sad

    its bad when anyone dies, especially in a situation like this….

    but if he was going the wrong way then, and ultimately, its too bad for Craig. everyone complains about cars and people not following traffic rules and being careless.. if your going to be careless on your bike your going to die. what does it matter that there were no witnesses or that it was 4am? if it were a car going the wrong way down a street and it hit someone or something you’d blame the car for being in the wrong place no….?

    i ride and i ride everywhere. i’ve even been hit by cars and everytime it was becasue i did the wrong thing. again, its terrible that anyone dies under such circumstances but wrong choices are still wrong choices.

    condolences to the family but i hope everyone learns a lesson here

  • mork

    Sad —

    I thought the lesson is that you can’t really believe killer drivers or the police reports.

  • mork

    Take a close look at police reporting of cyclist fatalities here:

    http://rightofway.org/research/cyclists.pdf

  • steve

    I was hit by a cab just last week and it was entirely his fault. I am sure other bicyclists have had similar experiences. The police reports concerning the bicyclist killed on the 65th St. Transverse last December were demonstrably inaccurate and raise several serious questions, which have been raised to NYPD months ago with no response received. I don’t think the average NYPD is any more biased against bicyclists than the average motorist–they are equally as biased–that is the problem.

  • michael

    My heart goes out to Craig’s family,and his many friends. Although I didnt know him personally, I know of what kind of person he was and all the good he did. I hear that there is going to be a memorial service comming up soon. Anyone know when and where?

  • Craig’s Mom

    Thank-you for the condolences. The police investigation is ongoing in this case.

    I know, in my heart, Craig would not be “racing” the truck….the last words he said to me – before he left home the last time I saw him in August – after I expressed for the umpteenth time how much I worried about him on that bike in NYC, was “Don’t worry Mom, I’m a safe biker”. Craig was smart. He would never put his life in jeopardy. He had too much life yet to live… so many plans for his future, so many thing he wanted to do….

    I do know they have found no eye witnesses to the accident. Please if ANYONE saw it , please call the police.

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