Killer DWI Cop’s Defense: Victim Shouldn’t Have Been Drinking and Walking

andrew_kelly.jpgAndrew Kelly. Photo: Daily News

The lawyer representing Andrew Kelly, the off-duty NYPD officer who last September killed pedestrian Vionique Valnord, then refused to submit to alcohol tests, has indicated that his line of defense will go something like this: The victim precipitated her own death by drinking at a wedding before my client ran her down on a Brooklyn street.

"There was alcohol in her system and witnesses at the wedding said she
was clearly, visibly intoxicated," said attorney Arthur Aidala at a hearing on Tuesday. "This goes to solidify the fact that
this was just a terrible accident."

Kelly himself was reported to be visibly intoxicated after hitting Valnord as she tried to hail a taxi. Yet in today’s papers both the Post and Daily News point out that Valnord was legally too drunk to drive. Here’s the News:

[Valnord] had a blood alcohol level of .22 – nearly three times the legal limit
if she had been driving, according to the toxicology report.

Now the Post:

The minister’s daughter run down and killed by an allegedly drunk
off-duty cop last fall was drunk herself, with a blood-alcohol
percentage more than three times the legal DWI limit, sources told The
Post.

The legal limit for driving is .08 percent.

Clearly the Post, at least, is on board with equating DWI and attempting to catch a cab after drinking: The victim’s autopsy results, the Post says, "bolster" Kelly’s claim that "it was Valnord who was to blame for the accident … when she raced out into
the street mid-block with no warning."

Trifling as it may be, the fact is Valnord wasn’t driving, and Kelly was. Said Valnord’s sister Ruth Jean: "What does it matter she had something at a wedding if he’s the one driving drunk."

Kelly’s defense is not without precedent. Richard Anderson refused a Breathalyzer test after he struck and killed Florence Cioffi
in Manhattan two years ago this month, and was ultimately able to plea down to a sentence of 16 days in jail and 250 hours of community service. According to the News, Cioffi’s lawyer suspected prosecutors backed down because Cioffi was intoxicated when she was hit.

Maybe Valnord could have avoided being put on trial herself by evading a blood alcohol analysis long enough to clear her system, as Kelly allegedly did. If only Kelly hadn’t killed her first.

  • Lesson: To avoid getting killed while drunk, drive a car?

  • Jesse

    How did the victim’s BAC become public knowledge? Did someone in the hospital violate doctor/patient confidentiality?

    This is some serious “blame the victim” shit. And, only a COP would have the balls to REFUSE a BAC test. Drunk driving thug fuck.

  • BicyclesOnly

    There should be strict liability under the criminal laws for all harm caused by driving while intoxicated. In other words, there should be no consideration of the extent to which the victim caused or contributed to the crash. That approach is appropriate because (1) it is of paramount importance to deter drunk driving and (2) the wrongdoer should not be able to parse and apportion his responsibility for any of the consequences flowing from his reckless conduct.

    A different rule should apply in the civil liability context. If Valnord’s survivors sue Kelly for damages, Kelly should be able to defend based on the argument that Valnord ran out in front of his vehicle unexpectedly. To support that defense, he should be able to present evidence that Valnord was drunk at the time. Pedestrians carry some degree of responsibility for their own safety. Even under the most enlightened traffic liability rules, in which motorists are presumed responsible for any harm they cause to a more vulnerable street user, the presumption is rebuttable.

  • So wait, police officers can refuse alcohol testing but dead people can’t?

  • BicyclesOnly, excellent point!

  • scroo yoo

    Ive read comments on other sites and saw some people(few) side with the officer. I have no idea what the fuck is wrong with these people. If the story didnt mention he was a cop everyone would be calling for him to be lynched.

    this story has nothing to do with the victim being drunk,and the attorney who brought it up should be disbarred.the lawyers in this country have gotten disgusting,and its a shame no one does anything about it.

    this is the only site that doesnt make you sign up to make a fucking comment

  • BKCoaster

    While I agree that this cop’s defense is crap, I think that generally speaking, a pedestrian’s level of intoxication SHOULD be a factor in apportioning blame for an accident.

    Often while riding, my greater concern isn’t the cars, but reckless pedestrians. The most serious bicycle accident I’ve been in wasn’t when I was hit by a car, but when a pedestrian came out from between two cars against the light. I had to slam my brakes, and I went over the handlebars, breaking bones and chipping a tooth.

    Even sober taxicab hailers are a regular menace on Manhattan avenues. They seem unaware that the bike lane is the STREET.

    Yesterday, on Prince Street, someone was walking the wrong way in the bike lane while texting – he didn’t even see me until I had to swerve to miss him (a van parked in the lane obscured my view). And these are ostensibly sober individuals.

    Point being, as a cyclist I don’t want to be deemed responsible for hitting any of these folks. It’s very easy to imagine a drunken cab hailer causing an accident, and I’d certainly want their level of intoxication to be a defense of mine in court.

    Does any of this excuse drunken driving? Of course not. But from a legal perspective, I’d say this line of defense isn’t so bad.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Bill Bratton Is in Denial About NYPD’s Deadly Drunk Driving Problem

|
In the aftermath of another civilian death at the hands of an allegedly intoxicated off-duty officer, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton says drunk driving cops are not a problem at NYPD. Nicholas Batka, 28, drove onto the sidewalk at Bedford Avenue and North Eighth Street in Williamsburg at around 3:10 a.m. Saturday, striking Andrew Esquivel and three friends. Esquivel, a […]

Even When the Killer Driver Is Drunk, Obstacles to Justice Abound

|
After two incidents in two months of off-duty NYPD officers running down and killing pedestrians, then refusing to submit to Breathalyzer tests, police Commissioner Ray Kelly this week convened a panel aimed at expediting the collection of blood evidence from motorists arrested on suspicion of driving drunk. The deaths of Vionique Valnord and Drana Nivac […]