Security Video of Fatal Hit-and-Run Doesn’t Match NYPD Descriptions

It took a lawsuit from the family of Mathieu Lefevre to pry information from NYPD regarding the hit-and-run crash that took his life. Now they have reason to believe the police are still withholding vital evidence.

Last week, Streetsblog reported that NYPD had released a detailed description of how the crash unfolded, supposedly based on security video from a business located at 157 Morgan Avenue. But the footage NYPD gave the Lefevre family does not convey the same details as the descriptions of video in the police investigative file.

Here is the description of a security video from 157 Morgan submitted by Detective Gerard Sheehan. It delves into specific detail about the crash:

Here are two videos captured from 157 Morgan that NYPD gave to the Lefevres and their attorney, Steve Vaccaro, showing footage at the intersection immediately before Leonardo Degianni, who fatally struck Lefevre and then left the scene, turned on to Meserole Street. In the first clip, the crane truck operated by Degianni enters the frame at about the 4:50 mark, and a cyclist is briefly visible at about the 5:02 mark. In the second clip, the truck enters the frame slightly after the 6:50 mark. In neither video is the moment Degianni struck Lefevre plainly visible.

(Streetsblog transferred these videos from AVI files NYPD provided to the Lefevres and Vaccaro. The original files supplied by NYPD displayed the videos upside down — you can see how they appeared at the end of this post.)

Adding to the discrepancies, a second police description of security video does not match Sheehan’s description or the videos in the investigative file. The description from Detective Sheehan says that Lefevre was initially struck by the “passenger right side” of Degianni’s truck, which threw him “into the roadway” before Degianni struck him again. A second description, from officer Armand Tasca, says Lefevre “rode directly into the side of the truck as it made the right turn” (note that both Sheehan and Tasca wrote that Degianni and Lefevre were traveling north on Morgan, when they were in fact traveling south — see crash diagram at the end of this post):

“The FOIL documents raise more questions than they answer,” said Vaccaro. Even with a close viewing of the videos posted here — two of the four released by NYPD — it’s impossible to corroborate NYPD’s version of how the collision unfolded. (The third video shows the truck traveling on Meserole Street, leaving behind what appears to be Lefevre’s bike mid-block, and the fourth video shows Degianni parking the crane truck, then driving away in another vehicle.)

NYPD’s public information office has not responded to Streetsblog’s request to speak with Detective Sheehan about the discrepancy between the videos and the descriptions of the videos in the investigative file.

On January 27, Vaccaro demanded that NYPD certify that he and the Lefevres have received accurate copies of all videos in the department’s possession. He has not yet received a response. “The NYPD’s account of the crash doesn’t hold water, unless there is video or other evidence they are withholding,” Vaccaro says.

Diagram of the crash from NYPD’s investigative file:

Videos from 157 Morgan Avenue as NYPD submitted to the Lefevres and Vaccaro:

  • Bmorganti

    I feel terrible for the family and I totally understand how they feel. I had a relative killed in a hit and run accident in NYC. It was very difficult to find out what exactly happened. The police department was great and extremely helpful but unfortunately I cannot say the same about the District Attorney’s office. The DA’s office was horrible. I was told so many unthruths or had so many misunderstandings. The person that killed my Uncle had probation and community service. The Assistant District Attorney was more worried about closing another case instead of justice. He was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, as my Uncle lay dying on 1st Ave on a wet rainy night. It was a nightmare that cost me more emotionally, mentally, time and money than the killer.

     
     

  • Ferdinand Cesarano

    One detail I am not understanding: after reading repeatedly about the truck having made a right turn from Morgan onto Meserole, I am surprised to see that it is described as travelling northbound. If it made a right onto Meserole, it must have been going southbound (not northbound) on Morgan, right?

  • m to the i

    Of course, according to the report, the bicyclist rode directly into the side of the truck! Isn’t it crazy how so many of these “investigations” conclude with bicyclists riding directly into cars and trucks? I remember the driver that was driving while high on Canal Street and killed a cyclists said that the bicyclist rode right into him. Amazing! All these suicidal cyclists out there?! 

  • Matt

    i’m trying hard to make sense of what happened here. i think it would help quite a bit if the videos were edited. 

  • Note Foot

    It seems like no matter what the video shows happened, we know that this poor guy got right-hooked. While a right hook can be due to driver negligence (not signalling or checking to the right, whipping around the corner too fast) cyclists still need to be really careful to ride defensively at intersections. Never, ever ride up on the right of a car in an intersection when it is possible they will turn. Assume that every driver at the intersection doesn’t see you and will drive negligently. Particularly trucks.

  • Former Cop

    People need to understand that this is a systemic problem at NYPD. The NYPD’s shocking malfeasance in this case is not a one-time thing. The NYPD actively works to declare every pedestrian and bike fatality an “accident” with “no criminality suspected” of the killer-driver. The NYPD does not want to investigate these incidents. The district attorneys do not want to prosecute these cases. NYC’s justice system simply does not want to be bothered. If a friend or loved one is killed by a motor vehicle on the streets of NYC, sorry for you. You will not get justice. You will not even get basic information.

    Let’s be clear: The local press is totally complicit in this. The Times, News and the networks write up these fatalities as “accidents” and they don’t bother to ask any questions.

  • Concerned Citizen

    @432f217ff649fd2e13a737d782686a22:disqus
    Former Cop, People don’t NEED to understand that this is a systemic problem. They know it’s a problem, but they are not willing to be complicit to obvious NYPD malfeasance. Somebody they cared about was killed and they want the police department to do their due diligence in finding why. They shouldn’t roll over and accept it just because that’s how it’s been.
    As more people transition from cars to bikes ignoring this problem will just get worse. There is obviously something wrong; people should do something about it. 

  • Brooklynite

    @6611a17e8b1583dfc81a2ae347df7241:disqus

    In fact, most New Yorkers do not know anything about this massive NYPD scandal until a friend or loved one is killed by a car on the streets of NYC.

    As it currently stands, it is virtually legal to kill someone on the streets of New York City if you use a motor vehicle as your weapon. If you are sober, licensed and registered and you do not flee the scene, the NYPD will, almost without question, declare the pedestrian or cyclist fatality as an “accident” and will put the driver back behind the wheel of his car with little more than a $125 “Failure to Yield” summons and a declaration of “no criminality suspected.”

    If they bother to cover the incident at all, the daily newspapers and the local TV news networks will simply repeat whatever the NYPD told them and that’s that.

    That’s why this is such an important story. For the first time in a long time we have an attorney, Steve Vaccaro, taking a deep look at how the NYPD treats pedestrian and cyclist fatalities. We have a family, the Lefevre’s, who are willing to press the issue. And we have a media outlet, Streetsblog, that is willing to stick with this story and give it the attention it deserves. Sadly, the Grynbaums and Haughneys of the NYC media world can’t be counted on for this type of journalism anymore. Thankfully, there’s Streetsblog.

    The NYPD’s investigative and enforcement methodology in ped/bike fatality cases will not withstand even the smallest amount of scrutiny. Anyone who has been following this issue for a while knows that this is a systemic and ongoing problem at the NYPD. Whether it was sloppiness, wrongdoing or a full-on cover-up by the NYPD — this type of unprofessional investigation is the norm when it comes to ped/bike fatalities in NYC.

  • Can we get some HD cameras out there too? These images are a shame to 21st century technology.

  • Ferdinand Cesarano

    It would seem that the crime did occur on the southbound side of Morgan — that is where the ghost bike is affixed.

  • Is there something that could be done with this as a civil rights case? That shoddy investigation allowing a murderer to go unpunished as a violation of the civil rights of the victim and their family?

    As I recall from the lynching deaths of Freedom Riders in Mississippi local prosecutors would not pursue murder charges because juries would never convict a white man of killing a black man so Federal civil rights charges had to be brought. I was a young child not even in school at the time so my memory of those cases is a bit fuzzy…

  • Also I noticed that not only was the original file flipped, it was mirrored as well. Look at the time/date stamp on the original file. I think the file released to the family was tampered with before they got it.

  • Family

    Thank you for the attention paid to the Lefevre family and their struggle. They are accepting donations for their legal fund here: mathieulefevre.org

  • Video image not very clear.
    What’s the point of a security camera footage if we can’t see anything clearly?

  • Jbf

    Let’s remember the 3 young children killed in Brooklyn crossing the street IN CROSSWALKS in Brooklyn South: Juan Estrada, Victor Flores and James Rice. Again no investigations to speak of. Drivers claim they didn’t see victims or notice dragging them after hitting them. Cops do not respond quickly or engage in due diligence in these traffic accidents. But then consider the guilty pleas in Brooklyn South in the FBI gun running sting–get it, the NYPD is corrupt and infiltrated. The trucking companies are also. Then look at the construction that goes on where pedestrians are walking under cranes, like at 438 4th Avenue. Cops drive right by, despite glaring safety violations. Where is Bill deBlasio in all this? Well, you know, he came out of the Brooklyn Democratic machine, he is not going to be too hard on his old friends . . . notice how he doesn’t say too much about all the cop scandals . . . 
    Thanks to the LeFevre family for taking this case through foil process and going through this. Shame on the mayor, shame on the city council, shame on the Times, shame on the crooks!

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