No Justice for Killing of Ibrihim Ahmed

aponte_status.jpgA facebook page apparently belonging to Alexander Aponte. The status was updated via cell phone minutes before Aponte struck and killed Ibrihim Ahmed.

Another story today highlights the woeful inadequacy of our justice system to deter traffic violence and hold reckless drivers accountable for the loss of life they cause. The Daily News reports that Alexander Aponte, who struck and killed nine-year-old Ibrihim Ahmed while driving a huge campaign bus for a Queens City Council candidate, will get away with a misdemeanor charge of driving with a suspended license. Not murder, not criminally negligent homicide, not vehicular manslaughter, not even reckless driving.

In light of the fact that driving with a suspended license carries only a perfunctory fine and seldom results in any jail time, Transportation Alternatives is calling for stiffer penalties to keep dangerous drivers off the streets, including a top-to-bottom overhaul of section 511 in the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law.

A look at section 511-a reveals that there may be some small measure of legal recourse against the Council candidate, Michael Ricatto, whose campaign hired Aponte. It says, in effect, that if you allow someone with a suspended license to drive your vehicle — such as a massive campaign bus — and you should have known better, you can be held accountable. However, the meager consequences — a maximum $500 fine and 15 days in jail for a first-time offense — are further proof of the need for stronger penalties.

Note that drivers with suspended licenses must surrender the physical license to a court or to the DMV [PDF, page 3]. Did Ricatto’s campaign even ask to see Aponte’s license before letting him drive?

The Queens District Attorney’s office would not comment on the possibility of charges being filed against Ricatto, saying that the investigation into the entire episode is ongoing. A spokesperson said that more serious charges may
be brought against Aponte if the investigation warrants, contradicting the Daily News report, but declined to comment on what
would trigger a charge of vehicular manslaughter. You would think running over a child while driving without a valid license would suffice.

  • Bjorn

    The BTA in Portland Oregon is pushing along with other groups for a Vehicular Homicide law that would create a separate offense for a driver who while driving without a license and/or insurance kills someone.

    http://bikeportland.org/2008/06/06/bta-will-pursue-vehicular-homicide-law-in-2009/

  • Lee
  • Rhywun

    This is really just outrageous, and of course it happens all the time but not when a political candidate is involved. Hopefully the issue will finally receive some attention.

  • Ben

    This is an example of how democracy has failed to protect our heroes of this car driving society.
    The gross neglect is appalling, which equals such tragic things such as slavery, segregation, and the war on drugs.
    Anyone who denies this or directly allows this condition to continue is unpatriotic and should be removed from any political position or public service.

  • bip bop

    more like “fukken” 187 of kid with car…

    how about getting Michael Ricatto on the record with his stance of proper penalties for this type of horrific nonsense?

  • Joe

    Another outrage from today — a drunk driver who killed a pedestrian last year going 60 mph in a 30 mph zone was sentenced to 16 DAYS in jail pursuant in a plea bargain with the DA’s office. The justification for this was that the pedestrian was also drunk and jaywalking. Unbelievable.

    http://gothamist.com/2009/01/08/prosecutor_drunk_driver_hit_drunk_p.php

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    The candidate runs business specializing in the repair and overhaul of heavy vehicles. He has many employees who maintain Commercial Driver Licenses. As far as knowledge of the dangers he cannot claim ignorance. And, to make it even worse (or better) he is a Republican, the party of individual responsibility, privatization and deregulation.

    We need an “Ibrahim’s” Law, like Megan’s Law, memorializing this young victim of automobile murder.

  • Boris

    What I don’t understand is why nobody ever files (and wins) a civil lawsuit in these cases. You can get $100,000s for being kicked off a flight because your t-shirt had Arabic text on it, but you can’t sue a campaign for killing a child?

    I think it would be easy to prove that Ibrihim’s mother will suffer a loss of income as well as emotional suffering quantifiable as several million dollars.

  • There are two problems here: Dangerous drivers get away without prosecution, and they keep their licenses.

    I think that the second part should be the easiest to remedy. Any driver who kills, under any circumstances, even if most people would really call it an “accident,” should lose his license. No exceptions.

  • JF

    Somewhere between Richard Brown and Charles Carneglia is the appropriate response.

  • John

    What we have here in our society is the twisted values that a machine are more important than a human being. A car, gun, house, MP3 player, sneakers or whatever is considered more important than a person. If a car hits and runs over a pedestrian, that’s okay. If a gun shot a kid, that’s okay. If someone got killed over a nice looking sneakers, that’s okay. According to this culture.

  • I just read the following in City Council Calendar I receive by e-mail:

    “Res 145 – By Council
    Members Vallone Jr., Fidler, Gennaro, Gentile, Koppell, Nelson, Recchia Jr., Weprin, Felder, Foster and Oddo – Resolution calling upon the New York State Legislature to address the legal loopholes that allow dangerous and deadly drivers to drive under the influence of drugs or to drive with a suspended or revoked license.”

    Could this be in response to the killing of Ibrihim Ahmed? Maybe partially creditable to T.A.’s work done after he was killed?

    Maybe, but also maybe not, because there are a few other resolutions, sponsored by some of the same members, on the calendar that concern killing or injuring children in non-car ways. Anyway, I like the resolution.

  • craig

    everyone on this page is a complete moron, plus extremely ignorant. i looked at all the files relating to this incident, as they are a matter of PUBLIC RECORD. the young mans license was suspended due to a law that they had passed 6 days before the accident. also, the NYSDMV was at fault, due to a address change that they never respected. ALSO, A 9 YEAR OLD BOY WAS CROSSING CROSS BAY BLVD BY HIMSELF?? I dont know if any of you have ever been to crossbay blvd, but i would never let my 15 year old son cross that street alone. it is an 9 lane SUPER HIGHWAY. further investigation also pointed me to the fact that there were no crossing guards near the intersection. the young man followed all the rules of the road and did not do anything negligent. there was a traffic camera at that intersection that PROVED that mr. Aponte was not at fault. DO YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE CASTING STONES. YOU SHALL ALL BE JUDGED ONE DAY, AND JUST HOPE ITS BY NO ONE LIKE YOURSELVES.

  • Alex Aponte is an employee and friend of mine. I knew him for several years before this terrible accident occurred. He had a New York State Drivers License which was in full force when I had hired him. He was found guilty of a traffic infraction and paid the fine imposed by New York State. Unfortunately he was not aware of the New York City‘s additional penalty. This went unpaid and was the cause of his license being suspended. Additionally Mr. Aponte was never informed by motor vehicles that his license was suspended. The true travesty is that there were no safety officers at this extremely hazardous intersection. This intersection is within 3 “short” blocks of an elementary school. A safety officer would probably have saved the live of Ibrihim Ahmed. There are several “red light” cameras at this intersection. Mr. Aponte’s driving was not the fault for this horrendous accident as was evidenced by the hard drive in those cameras. He was issued no summons for his driving on that day. He was only ticketed for not paying the New York City surcharge penalty because of the failure of New York State Motor Vehicles to inform him of the fact that he was indebted to the city, he was arrested and subsequently fined.

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