Harlem NYPD Chase Ends in Another Pedestrian Death

harlemnypdcarnage.jpgPhoto: 1010 WINS

An elderly woman was killed and at least two other bystanders were injured when suspects fleeing police slammed into another vehicle in Harlem this morning.

According to reports from City Room, 1010 WINS and WCBS, officers had pulled over a minivan at Lenox Avenue and W. 141st Street in connection with a gunpoint robbery and were questioning the driver outside the vehicle when a passenger slid into the driver’s seat and proceeded south on Lenox. Police gave chase with lights and sirens. At Lenox and W. 122nd, the minivan driver ran a red light and hit a second minivan and a sanitation truck. The suspect vehicle spun out of control into a crowd of people. Two elderly women standing on a traffic island were hit. Both were transported to area hospitals in critical condition. One later died. A cyclist was also reported hurt, as were two people in the minivans.

The NYPD Patrol Guide states: “Department policy requires that a vehicle pursuit be terminated whenever the risks to uniformed members of the service and the public outweigh the danger to the community if [the] suspect is not immediately apprehended.” Yet today’s incident is only the latest in recent memory in which a known or reported NYPD chase has ended with horrific collateral damage.

That’s five dead and about a dozen injured in the last year-and-a-half, not counting numerous incidents of off-duty officers involved in deadly and near-deadly crashes. Yet Commissioner Ray Kelly has had nothing to say on the subject. If recent experience holds, he won’t face pressure from the press to account for his department’s role in killing, maiming and endangering innocent New Yorkers.

  • What about the criminals’ role in these deaths? Is it your point that the NYPD is never supposed to give chase?

  • Glenn

    “Two elderly women standing on a traffic island were hit.”

    Correction – Two elderly women standing on an UNPROTECTED PEDESTRIAN island were hit.

    Unprotected pedestrian islands – I believe Lenox Ave has only a raised curb. Not protected at all. These injuries and death in the pedestrian island were totally preventable. You might as well be standing on the yellow lines of any two way street.

    And Why, why are these unprotected? Aesthetics??

  • George

    Again an Anti-NYPD article with no merrit. What are cops supposed to do? This car was being chased because there were several armed robberies. I guess people should call Brad Aaron because he knows best. I want my cops chasing violent offenders but there should be a mandatory 10 yrs in jail for running from the cops in a car.

  • Throcky

    There are thousands of cops in the city, all of them on radios: _follow_ the suspects, radio for help, get someone else to intercept them. This is Manhattan – where are they going to go in a car? I think the problem is that the chasing cops just want the collar to themselves each time.

  • Bill

    People are unpredictable under stress, but that does not mean we let them get away when they’re suspected of commiting a serious crime. Another reminder that one crime leads to another. In this case its whatever the legal term is for killing someone with a car.

  • One thing they could do differently is get everyone out of the car in situations like this. That way passengers can’t slide over and take off.

  • Aaron Naparstek

    George:

    “Violent offenders” like the guys who shoplifted allergy medication at CVS? They needed to be chased at high-speed down Broadway in the middle of the day on the Upper West Side?

    Look: This is pretty clear cut. Except for very rare occasions, high-speed car chases are inappropriate on New York City’s crowded, pedestrian-filled streets. They are also against the NYPD’s own policies. These NYPD chases have killed five innocent New Yorkers and injured more than a dozen in the last 18 months alone. How in the f’ing world can you guys possibly support that or be apologists for it?

    If this many innocent bystanders had been killed and injured by the discharge of NYPD firearms, we’d have investigations, City Council hearings and cops being reassigned to desk jobs. For some reason when cops kill people with their cars, it’s just an “accident.”

    What’s clear now is we’ve got a very disturbing trend of NYPD high-speed motor vehicle pursuits killing and injuring New Yorkers. This is lousy police practice. It’s got to stop. I’m calling the Public Advocate today.

  • J:Lai

    Kevin Walsh: “What about the criminals’ role in these deaths?”

    That’s exactly what is being discussed here. The criminals are carrying badges.

  • I’m calling the Public Advocate today.

    Wait, you mean he hasn’t issued a press release about it already?

    In this case its whatever the legal term is for killing someone with a car.

    The technical term for that is “the driver, who remained at the scene, was not charged.”

  • Steven

    We need to let these criminals know they need to stop committing crimes. Then this problem of them hitting pedestrians when they flee from justice will pretty much be solved.

    I hope the community can band together on this one and let the criminals know we won’t tolerate their reckless criminal acts.

    My prayers to the cops, who had to witness these criminals murder innocent women, and needless to say (and even more so), my prayers to the families of the women who were killed by these callous criminals.

    Hopefully the police and the families can band together to find peace from the trauma these perps inflicted on them all.

  • Lou Sergeant

    Are you kidding me? Let’s look at a few problems with your argument:
    1) It only lasted 19 blocks. 19 blocks is absolutely nothing in terms of a vehicle pursuit. That 19 blocks can goes by in the blink of an eye.

    2) What’s to say that the first 10-15 blocks weren’t ‘safe’ for the pursuit? Maybe pedestrian/vehicular traffic didn’t pick up until they proceeded farther south into the 120s.

    3) Terminating the pursuit immediately doesn’t guarantee that the retard behind the wheel of the mini-van wouldn’t have continued driving like an idiot for at least several more blocks.

    4) Letting criminals go for stuff like this sets a bad precedent. Yes, there shouldn’t be pursuits that endanger the public. Apprehending the perp isn’t “worth” it in that case… but to give up immediately is just a really bad precedent. It sends a message to criminals that if they want to get away, all they have to do is run and cops won’t do a damn thing.

    Unbelievable…

    How about you trying pointing a finger at the moron behind the wheel instead of at cops that were trying to apprehend a vehicle wanted in questioning with a robbery?

  • Joe

    What is the author’s point? Are the police supposed to let someone escape from committing a crime because that person may become so reckless that they kill another person? The criminal is responsible for crashing his car into the pedestrian, not the police that were following him. The criminal could have ended the entire incident by not fleeing from the police. He made a decision to endanger the lives of others.

    If Brad Aaron was robbed, I’m sure he would be yelling for the cops to do something. If the cops responded “Sorry, we can’t chase people because they may act recklessly and kill a pedestrian,” I’m sure Brad would be writing a story about that.

    At a certain point, an NYPD cop has to realize that no matter what you do in this city, you can’t win. I would love to see someone like Brad Aaron try to police this city for a few days.

  • George

    Aaron…While I will not dispute the pursuits in NYC are very dangerous, I will say the blame should rest with the bad guy who decided to run. I am very familiar with the NYPD pusuit policy and it is not against their rules to chase people although it is very restricted and frowned upon. However, if you make it known the police can not chase: everyone will run.

  • nobody

    What’s with all these purported defenders of the NYPD defending the breaking of the law? You guys are defending possible vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving, and can’t even understand NYPD’s own internal policies!

    Let’s review this again, shall we? The cops did a foolish thing, violating their own rules, and endangering the very people they are sworn to protect. They should be punished, as should the guys in the van they were chasing. This is not hard, folks. Weapons don’t only come in the form of a gun.

  • Who’s This

    nobody….where are you getting your info from there is nothing in the NYPD patrol guide that says they can not chase. It says to use caution and to terminate if told to do so by a supervisor or it gets too dangerous. People need to stop watching T.V and understand this is real life and cops should not become the scapegoat. While tragic, the peson who ran should be held responsible. As long as criminals get support from the public and the police are despised, things like this are going to happen. Can’t have it both ways. When the cops are wrong they are wrong, but it cant be all the time or eventually we will have a police department that does nothing.

  • George/Who’s This: Streetsblog frowns on sock-puppeting. If you want to post multiple comments please stick with one pseudonym.

  • Joe

    After reading the report of this incident in other newspapers, I see that Brad Aaron is way more of a jackass than his original article even shows. The cops recovered a gun in the car, which is further evidence that these were bad dudes. There is no evidence at all that the police did anything wrong or reckless. The criminals crashed, not the police.

    Brad, do yourself and the city a favor and get a clue before you reflexively bash the police. Maybe you believe the cops should have let the guy and his gun go. Maybe that guy could then go rob you or kill you with his gun. If that happened, would you still be saying that the police shouldn’t pursue?

    The constant bashing of police, who are risking their lives to protect a largely ungrateful population, has real consequences. As morale descends into the toilet, it is very easy for a cop to turn from a crime fighter into a report taker. The difference is often literally seconds. Drive a little slower to a call and you become a report taker.

    As officers are constantly bashed by the media, they can very easily say “this isn’t worth it” and stop doing anything. Be careful what you wish for, Brad. You might get it.

  • Aaron Naparstek

    The constant bashing of police, who are risking their lives to protect a largely ungrateful population, has real consequences.

    Sorry if we are not appreciative enough of NYPD officers doing Steve McQueen-style car chases on our crowded city streets. Maybe if you guys actually lived here instead of emerging from your suburban Long Island Green Zone to work our city streets like an occupying army, you’d better understand why car chases and NYC don’t mix very well.Details added in today’s NYT story make clearer that this chase, like the one that killed Karen Schmeer on Broadway, was almost certainly unnecessary.

    To Lou Sergeant’s claim that a 19-block car chase is “almost nothing.” What planet do you live on? Please: Let’s do that car chase with your wife and kids standing on the sidewalk waiting to cross the street and see if you still think it’s almost nothing. You know what’s really, truly “almost nothing?” The non-violent robbery of a federally-insured bank.

    But here’s the bottom line: Five innocent New Yorkers have been killed and more than a dozen injured in these cop car chases in the last 18 months alone. This carnage tally doesn’t include all of the recent damage done by off-duty officers recently involved in massive car wrecks throughout the city.

    No one here is saying the bad guys are innocent. And, yes, the cops do plenty of good work in NYC (and get great pensions, lots of authority and power, and plenty of public hero-worship for their trouble, btw). But when it comes to motor vehicle pursuit policy, there is something clearly, deeply broken at the NYPD that needs to be fixed. 1 Police Plaza and its Internet sockpuppets can’t keep pretending that this is not a problem. Advocates need to make sure this issue is pressed because it is just so egregious.

  • Bilbo

    Ok Aaron. I say we just tell the police to do the posted speed limit, obey ALL traffic rules and regulations. This includes stopping at all red lights, and stop signs while responding to all 911 calls. Drive like Joe Q Public responding to in progress robberies, sexual assaults, man with a firearm calls. If they happen to pull over a carload of scum, with a firearm in the back seat, who just happened to shoot or rob a family member of YOURS,let them run. Then at least there wont be any carnage on our streets. Just take the report officers. Its guys like Aaron that the police are all to frequently protecting. Know nothing, armchair generals who are more than happy how to tell you how to do your job. After all you would not want to jeopardize your great pensions (cough), all that authority and power (cough) and off course the hero worship (cough). After all if Aaron needs a cop he can handle it. Hes obviously more adept at your job than you are. Im going to watch a Steve McQueen movie.

  • Joe

    The reality is that there are actually very few vehicle pursuits in New York at all. Ever see a “cops” show with New York City chases? That’s because there are very few pursuits.

    THERE IS NO EVIDENCE IN THIS CASE THAT THE POLICE DID ANYTHING WRONG!!!

    Beyond that, Aaron. YOU ARE A JACKASS!

  • Aaron Naparstek

    Joe: If that’s the reality then it’s even more of a problem that this very small number of vehicle pursuits is resulting in this very large number of civilian deaths and injuries.

    You guys need to get your heads out of the sand. NYPD’s vehicle pursuit policy needs to be investigated.

  • Bilbo

    Aaron. Did it ever occur to you to place the blame where it belongs? Squarely on the shoulders of the scum that ran from the police. The police did not crash. They chose to run. They knew they were wanted for a violent felony and they ran. Were the police supposed to let ARMED criminals escape? When are we going to start putting the blame where it really belongs instead of another investigation into the police? When is the public going to realize that when the red lights go on its a FORCIBLE stop and they do NOT have the right to flee? So far as I can tell, the police did nothing wrong. I for one do not need to “get my head out of the sand”. The members of the public who feel its their god given right to flee a lawful stop, or resist an officer when he or she tells them to do something, need to get their collective heads out of the clouds.

  • Ian Turner

    Bilbo, I’d say it’s quite plain from the department’s own policy that yes, they were supposed to let armed criminals escape. The consequences of having failed to follow that policy is the death of innocent civilians.

  • Did it ever occur to you to place the blame where it belongs? Squarely on the shoulders of the scum that ran from the police.

    I’m OK with a bank robber running from the police if it means innocent New Yorkers don’t have to get killed in unnecessary high-speed car chases.

    Karen Schmeer was killed in an NYPD high-speed chase because the cops were chasing a guy who shoplifted a sub-$10 item from a CVS. Was that justified too, you think? Would you make that argument to Karen’s parents and friends?

    The NYPD has clearly broken its own policy on high-speed car chases in most if not all of the above cases. This needs to be investigated and something needs to change at the agency to stop this from continuing to happen.

    Public Advocate Bill de Blasio says he’s going to give it a shot:

    http://twitter.com/billdeblasio/status/16873702363

    Hopefully Ray Kelly is made to answer for these unnecessary deaths of innocent New Yorkers.

  • Bilbo

    Aaron whats disheartening is the fact that you are so quick to judge the officers for actions taken in a situation that probably took seconds to unfold. You and I were not there. I for one will wait until all the facts come out. I will however give the benefit of doubt to the ones who risk their lives to try to protect us. If their actions were deemed to be at odds with department policy then they must answer for it. If not then cut them a break. One other thing. You are ok with a pair of armed bank robber running? That is quite disturbing. I am not advocating chasing all thugs, as is the case with the young lady you mentioned above, but there has to be a line drawn. If thugs know the police will not chase, no matter how violent the crime,then heaven help us. Lets wait and see what all the facts are. Ive never been in a situation where i was confronting armed suspects and then asked to make a split second decision on how to stop them. Have you? If you have then you can make a far more educated argument on this topic then I can.

  • Aaron Naparstek is correct.

    In a prior post on Streetsblog a senior and or retired police officer gave a full account of the proper protocol and procedures in these types of situations which have been well thought out and are to be followed by law enforcement to minimize danger to the public.

    There seems to be a clear indication that these were not followed since people where killed.

    It is extremely dangerous and counter productive to have a gun battle on a crowded city street.

    In many situations cars are even more dangerous than guns and there are established law enforcement protocols for dealing with cars as weapons.

    Engaging in car chases in what amounts to “car battles” on city streets is equally if not even more dangerous and counter productive than gun battles even though it might be the stuff of entertaining action films easily but wrongly considered the proper course of action.

    Transportation systems based on cars are both directly actively violent and passively structurally violent systems and the same extreme amount of care has to be taken dealing with them as with loaded guns or highly volatile explosive materials since lives are at stake.

    If the perpetuators are fleeing by foot or even bicycle it would be different and which was not the case.

  • Ian Turner

    Bilbo, which is it? Should we investigate and find out “If their actions were deemed to be at odds with department policy” so they can “answer for it”, or should we just blame the suspects instead of “another investigation into the police”? Surely you don’t expect we can answer the first question without an investigation?

  • Bilbo

    Let them investigate. They are going to anyway. Was there a pursuit? If there was did the patrol supervisor call it off as per regulations? There are accounts that the scumbags in the car were way ahead of the police. Did the officers have a chance to initiate a pursuit? Since you are so concerned about the deaths and maiming of innocent new yorkers at the hands of the police in vehicles, why dont you ask the great public advocate to do something about the innocent people maimed and killed by drunks on an average weekend in this state who are behind the wheel? Surely that number is far greater than at the hands of the police behind the wheel. And since that number is much greater, one could conclude that the average citizen can not handle the responsibility of automobile ownership. Its kind of obvious that you have a beef with the police. I dont usually pay attention to whats in the news papers. the old saying believe none of what you hear and only half of what you read applies here. If they are deemed to act appropriately, will there be another anti police diatribe from you? Or will you be the better person and admit you were wrong? I will if its found out that they acted incorrectly. Somehow though i do not think you will.

  • Ian Turner

    Bilbo, I think you have made a coherent and justified argument that “the average citizen can not handle the responsibility of automobile ownership”. Autos kill hundreds in the city annually, tens of thousands nationwide, and millions annually worldwide. Perhaps we should put in some sort of licensing procedure to ensure that only those who have the training and responsibility required to operate heavy machinery actually do so.

    Regarding the investigation, I don’t believe that I’ve actually made any statements with respect to the guilt or innocence of any person, so I’ll not need to admit being wrong if anyone is found innocent. That said, I’m always open to changing my mind in response to new information. You?

    Cheers,

    –Ian

  • #28 Bilbo, ” . . . killed by drunks on an average weekend in this state who are behind the wheel?”

    Yes, this seems to be a good question.

    Another might be: How many drunken pedestrians are killed by perfectly sober drivers?

    . . . to further focus on the extreme danger of transportation systems based on cars; a substantial moral societal issue — and not on the individual scale — perpetuating such a destructive system.

  • #30 gecko (continued),

    . . . And, of course there is the follow-on question perhaps higher up the moral neutrality scale for individuals:

    How many children and elderly are killed by perfectly sober drivers?

  • Steven

    I think a full investigation has to be conducted into the policy criminals use to run from the police. Hopefully Bill DeBlasio will take this up.

    What this incident makes clear to all is that the criminal policy of fleeing the police results in the needless deaths of innocent citizens. Every time they commit a crime and then selfishly flee from the consequences of their actions, the public is endangered.

    These criminals need to be held accountable, possibly charged with a crime, possibly jailed. Criminals must be stopped, before they hurt and kill others! I hope the NYPD and politicians will commence an initiative to get these dangerous felons off the street. Then, and only then–after the people who run from their felonies are incarcerated–will pedestrians be safe.

    And to hear that the criminals in this case were armed with an illegal gun! If they were still on the loose, we’d all be in that much more danger.

    NYPD: can you help us? If you can’t, who can? Who will get the criminals who flee the police off the street?

  • Lou Sergeant

    Aaron Naparstek wrote:
    ***
    To Lou Sergeant’s claim that a 19-block car chase is “almost nothing.” What planet do you live on? Please: Let’s do that car chase with your wife and kids standing on the sidewalk waiting to cross the street and see if you still think it’s almost nothing. You know what’s really, truly “almost nothing?” The non-violent robbery of a federally-insured bank.
    ***

    I have plenty of family in NYC. I grew up here in the 80s and still live in NYC to this day. What I will say to you is this: 19 blocks is not a very long distance at all and it goes by all too quickly.

    If a family member of mine was mowed down during a vehicle pursuit, I’d want to point a finger at someone. I’d want heads to roll. But I’d have the common sense to realize that using the police as scapegoats is irresponsible and irrational.

    Aaron Naparstek wrote:
    ****But when it comes to motor vehicle pursuit policy, there is something clearly, deeply broken at the NYPD that needs to be fixed. 1 Police Plaza and its Internet sockpuppets can’t keep pretending that this is not a problem. Advocates need to make sure this issue is pressed because it is just so egregious.****

    There’s no problem with the NYPD vehicle pursuit policy. Your statement is hyperbole. If you are on a crusade to save lives from so-called reckless behavior, your time is better spent lobbying for enactment of stricter licensing procedures for drivers.

    You are making mountains out of molehills because I assure you, the number of people hurt in a year due to NYPD vehicle pursuit policy statistically is barely a blip on the radar as compared to the number of deaths resulting from motor vehicle accidents (both drunk or sober).

  • A car-free city may indeed have an upside for criminals.

    Had an Italian oncologist friend who often described the bicycle as the Italian secret weapon during World War II:

    It helped them to escape the enemy.

  • Jose

    Is it so hard to follow them until it’s safe to box them in.it’s a different generation of cops these cops are way to loose.They are their own gang.They brake the laws themselves no talking on cells phone while driving they do it no parking by a pump they do it.They should lead by example not take advantage of the uniform.

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