Dangerous Drivers Practically Begging for NYPD’s Attention

The DNAinfo story on the crash that injured multiple people in Midtown Saturday night is like the elementary school exercise that involved a sequence of sentences with one that didn’t belong.

Sorry, crash victims. For NYPD and city prosecutors, this isn't enough to make a case. Photo: DNAinfo

Nine people were hurt when a Jaguar sparked a chain reaction accident near Bryant Park Saturday night, authorities said.

According to police, the driver of the luxury car was traveling on West 42nd Street, near Sixth Avenue, when he rear-ended a Chevy Impala around 9 p.m.

Sources said that the car may have been speeding at the time of the smashup.

The impact sent the Impala careening into a taxi and the Jaguar flipped over, smashing into a group of people on the sidewalk, cops said.

Four pedestrians suffered a variety of injuries including a concussion. One refused medical attention, police said.

Four people in the Impala suffered non life-threatening injuries.

All of the victims were taken to Bellevue Hospital.

According to cops, there did not appear to be criminality.

In New York, however, the last line makes perfect sense. An NYPD spokesman told the Times that none of the victims was “likely to die,” meaning that, if police protocols were followed, the department’s Accident Investigation Squad did not investigate the crash. And since precinct cops normally will not charge a driver unless they personally witness an infraction — again, according to department policy — there is practically no chance that the person who crashed into another vehicle and flipped his car onto a sidewalk into a crowd of people will get as much as a moving violation.

Wrote Streetsblog commenter Long-Time Observer: “Because the NYPD does not investigate these kinds of crashes, we will we ever know what exactly caused the crash in Midtown and what can be done to prevent future crashes with similar causes. If the crash was caused by reckless driving, the driver could very well be back behind the wheel driving around the streets of New York City today.”

And if it turns out that a victim was in fact mortally injured Saturday, the lapse between the time of the crash and an AIS investigation has the potential to quash any case against the driver — not that charges would necessarily be issued in the first place.

Also, keep in mind that this crash is one of thousands every year that are handled by police and prosecutors in exactly the same manner.

Ray Kelly, Cy Vance, Michael Bloomberg: Where are you?

  • Eric McClure

    Subpoena the Jaguar’s event data recorder.  Subpoena the driver’s cell phone records.  Review surveillance footage, of which there should be plenty.

    This crash could have easily killed a dozen people.  If someone had sprayed Times Square with bullets, putting nine people in the hospital, you can bet that the place would’ve been crawling with cops.

  • Two violations–speeding and failing to use due care.  Where’s the reckless endangerment charge?  

  • curious

    Question for the lawyers:

    I have heard that you can not subpoena a driver’s cellphone or text messaging records unless a victim or witness reports having seen the driver using a phone at the time of the crash.  Is that true?

  • Anonymous

    >
     you can bet that the place would’ve been crawling with cops.

    Or if the Jag’s windows were tinted too darkly.

  • Anonymous

     

    If someone had sprayed Times Square with bullets, putting nine people
    in the hospital, you can bet that the place would’ve been crawling with
    cops.

    Reading this I imagined what would happen if someone just made the *sound* of firing bullets in Time Square. I feel pretty confident that person would be thrown to the ground, handcuffed, and charged with something–anything. Obviously, the person would also be put on the No Fly list, have his or her phone tapped (more directly than the NSA currently does to everyone), etc.

  • Curious:

    Morano v. Slattery Skanska
    http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ny-supreme-court/1003840.html

    “It is the opinion
    of the court that the mere fact that a defendant was in the
    possession of a cell phone at the time of an accident, without
    any witness testimony as to it being used at that time, would
    not entitle the plaintiff to said defendant’s cell phone records,
    since such a discovery request would amount to nothing more
    than a fishing expedition.”
     

  • Anonymous

    curious

    That rule applies to civil personal injury litigation. I doubt that the police would be similarly constrained if they were interested in investigating criminal behavior.

  • Anonymous

    I used to work off of the Bryant Park station and that area is always full of peds.  Freaking amazing that there’s no criminality suspected.

    The speed limit is too low to have cars flying through the air.  Just incredible that there isn’t a greater outrage.  That could’ve been me or my girlfriend getting run over as she walks to that station every night from work. SMH.

  • Anonymous

    @fcc0fa6fb5429aaee90a13bd1446ef47:disqus 
    That’s probably departmental policy.  Because, somewhat sadly, b/c of the patriot act, you don’t even need a subpoena to get someone’s call records, let alone evidence that someone was on the phone.  But, aside from the back-door patriot act route, you just need a reasonable basis to believe that evidence may be attained and voila, you’ve got access. 

  • Anonymous

     BikeNYC Law

    It’s pretty messed up that the government monitor’s everyone’s electronic communications but for public safety, all of a sudden, the 4th Amendment has teeth again. 

  • Joe R.

    I’ve said it before several times but I’ll say it again-it continually boggles my mind exactly what a driver must be doing in order to end up on the sidewalk, or worse yet, crash into a building. Just the physics involved indicates you must be going well above the 30 mph, while also having rudimentary ability to control your car. This combination of bad judgement plus incompetence indicates to me that just crashing into the sidewalk should merit a long license suspension plus mandatory retraining. If any deaths or injuries are involved, then the license should be revoked permanently.

  • Eileen

    So, a car ends up on a sidewalk, injuring people, and there’s no criminality. But people sleep on a sidewalk and there is.

  • Anonymous

    It’s common sense to any right thinking person that flipping a car you are driving onto the sidewalk, and especially if you end up injuring or killing other people, should be a criminal act of some kind.

    However, cops are people (hard to believe sometimes) and they respond in a rational way to incentives just like everyone else.  They have an incentive not to bring complaints to the DA that are likely to get thrown out.  And ADA’s are also people who respond  rationally to their incentives – they have an incentive not to bother with cases that are very hard to turn into convictions or admissions of guilt.

    The major bottleneck in traffic justice is legislative.  Our current laws make driving a privileged activity in the sense that it is very difficult to convict a driver of even a misdemeanor, let alone a more serious charge, for actions taken while driving in the street.  There are a few exceptions, like drunk driving, but by and large people behind the wheel of a car enjoy a legal status that is further removed from prosecution than people who are not driving a car.

    It’s easy to point fingers at the NYPD, and they are in general an incompetent and criminal organization, but the real problem, as with so many things in New York, resides in Albany.

  • Anonymous

    Is it really the fault of legislators or society at large? I think there is merit to the argument that there is a social contract of sorts, where most people accept the risks caused by driving in exchange for the benefits. We (frequent readers of this blog) may find it hard to imagine, but it is likely that most people don’t even think about traffic safety, and if you ask a random person on their street if they think people should face criminal charges for unintentionally (“accidentally”) killing someone while driving sober, I suspect most would say no.

    To push legislators to change laws, we need to change popular opinion first. Maybe we need something like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, but wider in scope.

  • KillMoto

    Not counting the poorly names “Accident Investigation Squad”, how many NYPD detectives investigate homicides? 

    Diven that cars kill more people in NYC than guns, why aren’t general homicide detectives brought in to investigate motorist killings? 

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