In Lefevre Case, NYPD Press Statements Don’t Match NYPD Crash Report

Speaking at yesterday’s Transportation Alternatives rally at 1 Police Plaza, Erika Lefevre pointed to inconsistencies between initial accounts of the hit-and-run collision that killed her son Mathieu and the version offered by the crash report, which her family obtained only after weeks of NYPD stonewalling.

The case of Mathieu Lefevre is only the latest in which relatives and friends of traffic crime victims are kept in the dark by a police department with a long record of withholding information regarding cyclist and pedestrian deaths. It does, however, afford a detailed look at NYPD incompetence and obfuscation. For example:

  • An NYPD officer told Gothamist that the department “had concluded that Lefevre had run a red light at the intersection.” The glaring flaw in that conclusion is that if both Lefevre and driver Leonardo Degianni were traveling in the same direction, and Lefevre ran a light, presumably Degianni could not have struck Lefevre unless he did the same. Regardless, there is no mention in the crash report of either party running a light.
  • The prevailing narrative of the crash, which originated with NYPD, is that Lefevre was riding to the right of Degianni’s commercial truck when Degianni turned into him. The diagram on the crash report seems to depict a rear-end collision, and the officer’s notes say Degianni made the turn after the collision.
  • NYPD told the Lefevre family that the truck that hit Mathieu was identified through visible damage, but the vehicle damage codes section of the crash report was marked through, with no details documented.
  • On October 24, an NYPD spokesperson told Gothamist: “The driver did not know that he hit the cyclist.” The police report, amended on October 30 with Degianni’s identity (which police would not provide to Gothamist or the Lefevre family), includes no explanation of why Degianni left the scene, or what circumstances led him to run over a person on a bicycle without knowing it.
  • NYPD told Erika Lefevre that charges had been dropped against the driver, suggesting that charges were filed at some point. This contradicts a statement, also reported by Gothamist on October 24, that no charges were filed, as well as remarks from a department spokesperson who told Metro: “There’s no criminality. That’s why they call it an accident.”

Inexplicably, even as NYPD refused information to the Lefevres, the department was talking to the media. On October 26, a week after her son was killed, Erika Lefevre told reporters, “All we know is what we have read in the papers.” On Wednesday, Lefevre spoke directly to NYPD.

“Today, I am asking NYPD to stop leaking misinformation to the press about crash victims,” she said. “That only hurts victims and their families and makes NYPD appear unprofessional and biased.” Lefevre said that to this point NYPD has not complied with freedom of information requests and has not permitted her family to see video of the crash and other evidence police say they have.

  • The Gambler

    I’ll lay better than even money that Leonardo Degianni has a relative “on the job,” as they like to say behind the thin blue line.

  • Steven Weiner

    As a lawyer who represents crash victims — cyclists, pedestrians, motorists — the inaccuracies, discrepancies and inconsistencies in this police report are no surprise to me.  I see this all the time.  We now have a client who was recently “rear-ended” by a car as he was riding a bicycle.  The driver failed to stay at the scene although the injured cyclist and his friends wrote down the vehicle’s plate number.  The cyclist reported the accident to the precinct, obtained the report and an officer assigned to track down the driver actually called the driver.  When the driver simply denied he was at the location at the time of the accident, the officer stated his investigation was complete and no further action would be taken.  The NYPD has demonstrated over and over that it has no interest in devoting resources to traffic crashes and what comes from the top has filtered down over generations to those at the bottom.   http://www.reibmanweiner.com

  • Anonymous

    I would not bet against the gambler. I have been thinking that all along.

  • Anonymous

    I would not bet against the gambler. I have been thinking that all along.

  • Anonymous

    I would not bet against the gambler. I have been thinking that all along.

  • The Truth

    There needs to be some official censorship of the NYPD spin machine.  The consistent lies that come out of 1PP should not be tolerated by the Mayor, the City Council, or the DA’s offices.  

    If nothing else, I hope one of their victims eventually sues them for slander.  As a taxpayer, I don’t look forward to that payout, but it would end up being a good investment if it cleans up the NYPD a little.

  • Steve Vaccaro

    Thanks for the excellent post, Brad.  None of the MSM at the rally picked up this important story, even though they were provided with the same information.  and, of course, you took that information and added more along with great analysis. 

    As the lawyer representing the Lefevres in this matter, I will make one minor correction:  the accident report was provided by NYPD just under two weeks after the crash.

  • J Heller 2

    Steven Weiner, it’s a bit different that the cop told your client “the investigation was complete.” A favorite NYPD tactic is to keep “investigations” open forever and deny victims ,and families, crash records or access to findings because it might interfere with the investigation. Some cases seem to never close. A smarter cop would never declare an investigation closed. There’s no advantage to it. 

  • dporpentine

    The incompetence, the indifference to the loss of human life, the contempt for the family or anyone else who might ever see this report . . .

    It doesn’t so much make me afraid to ride a bike as it does make me afraid of my fellow adults. Who can sleepwalk through another person’s death like this? It’s disturbing.

    I know that’s an overused movie reviewing word, but it’s real: this is *disturbing.*

  • J

    Where is Bloomberg on this? His policies are schizophrenic on biking. He has a wonderful DOT commissioner who has done wonders to make cycling safer in NYC, but also a NYPD chief who could give a crap about anyone who actually bikes and then is hit. This makes no sense to me. 1) Fire Ray Kelly 2) Find a police chief who is competent and actually hold cops accountable for negligence, lawlessness, corruption, and intimidation.

  • I should not be telling people what to do when it comes to confronting a police force, but I’ll do it anyway:

    the way to get the police to change their behavior is for citizens to hold a demonstration at the police plaza EVERY DAY. 

  • Ex-driver

    Translation: This is too hard to figure out, so we’re not going to bother to try.

  • Smart Target

    Or maybe the perp was “on the job” at the time, tailing the “target” as they like to say… In Gangstalking parlance.

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