With No Charges From Cy Vance or NYPD, Curb-Jumping Cabbie Driving Again

Six weeks after cab driver Mohammed Himon drove onto a Midtown sidewalk and hit tourist Sian Green, severing her leg, Green is back home in England. Meanwhile, Himon is again driving a taxi, as no charges have been filed against him by NYPD or Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.

The August 20 crash attracted international attention — a young tourist horrifically injured on a gorgeous day in the heart of Midtown, her life saved by a plumber and celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz. NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and Vance’s office announced investigations, which is never a given when a motorist maims or kills in NYC. Himon pleaded guilty to a suspension summons and surrendered his hack license on August 23, but the Taxi and Limousine Commission says he reclaimed it on September 26.

“Without any action having been taken against him by the DA’s office or the NYPD, there’s no lawful basis for TLC to have held it beyond the 30-day suspension he served,” said TLC spokesperson Allan Fromberg, “so his license was reinstated.”

After a cab driver killed a senior in the West Village last year, the TLC told Streetsblog that unless a cabbie faces criminal charges, or a consumer files a complaint, the agency can’t take action against a driver who harms a pedestrian. Potential sanctions include the suspension of a driver’s TLC license, and additional actions can be taken based on the outcome of a case.

The Wall Street Journal reported in September that, due to a record-keeping error, for the past three years the TLC allowed 4,500 dangerous cabbies to keep driving without penalty, including 600 drivers with 10 or more points on their records.

According to published reports, Himon has a history or reckless driving, with three moving violations in 2011, including citations for running a red light and doing 65 mph in a 45 mph zone, resulting in nine points on his license. He was also involved in another crash that resulted in injury, reports said.

Himon reportedly drove a quarter of a block on a Midtown sidewalk with a cyclist on the hood before slamming into Green. He confessed to the media that he intentionally stepped on the gas before mounting the curb. Green has said Himon should be charged criminally. Yet city law enforcers and the agency charged with regulating cab drivers are either unable or unwilling to keep a habitually dangerous cabbie from endangering other innocent people.

Vance’s office was highly critical of our initial coverage of this crash, when we cited media tips from law enforcement sources who said Himon would not face criminal charges. Vance’s office would not comment when we asked about this case in September. We contacted the office this morning to ask if the investigation is still active. We have yet to hear back.

Update: Cy Vance’s office sent us this statement: “This case is an open and active investigation.”

  • alexblac

    How does this kind of neglect to prosecute driving thugs compare with the rest of the USA? I found dangerous driving sentences to be too lenient in the UK, but in this kind of incident at least there’d normally be charges and, where convicted, community service, fines and/or a small amount of porridge.

  • Anonymous

    Vance’s office was highly critical of our initial coverage of this crash.

    Well apparently his office didn’t get the message as they sent out a fund raising e-mail playing up his white collar/identity fraud bona fides (which, isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not like he’s taking on the systemic fraud on Wall Street).

    ***

    Dear [ ],

    The white-collar crime laws New York has today date from the mid-1960s, back when credit cards were first being introduced to American consumers and Ma Bell was heralding the wonders of touch-tone dialing. They were comprehensively updated just once – in the mid-1980s, well before the World Wide Web was created.

    We’ve come a long way since then – the fact that there is a good chance you’re reading this email on your smartphone is a testament to that. But when it comes to the way we prosecute white-collar criminals, New York City is stuck in the past.

    As the leader of the District Attorneys Association, I pushed hard to improve
    our white-collar crime statutes. It’s why last year I convened the New York
    State White Collar Crime Task Force and why last week we released our findings. It is clear that the time for change is now.

    I talked to CNBC last week about these outdated laws. You can watch the interview here. http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000202750

    Fifty years ago, identity theft typically involved a single actor who forged a
    driver’s license, walked into a bank and withdrew funds from a target account.
    Today, organized criminal rings are in the business of stealing thousands of
    identities and millions of dollars. But a crime ring can steal $2,001 or $2
    million and the punishment is identical. Criminals who steal more money from
    more people should get the treatment they deserve.

    Given that laws we have today are largely from before the days that everyone
    had a computer, it’s no surprise that our laws about computers are set up to
    protect businesses and not people. So while prosecutors can use the Computer Trespass law to tackle a business seeking illegal advantages over competitors, criminals who access people’s private emails or hack into their personal webcams may only be prosecuted for a misdemeanor. Someone who hacks your computer to spy on you in the privacy of your home deserves the full force of the law, not a comparative slap on the wrist.

    And even for businesses, the laws don’t reflect today’s technology. For
    instance, the law doesn’t currently treat stealing computer code like it does a
    larceny because of obsolete provisions that simply don’t allow for theft by
    duplication. Today, a bit of clever computer code could be the basis for a
    billion dollar company. We need new laws to protect innovators and idea
    creators.

    There’s a lot for us to do together, and I’m convinced that the time is right
    to comprehensively update our white-collar criminal statutes. I want to thank
    you for your help and support.

  • Ari

    “The TLC told Streetsblog that
    unless a cabbie faces criminal charges, or a consumer files a
    complaint, the agency can’t take action against a driver who harms a
    pedestrian.”

    Is Ms. Green considered a consumer? I’m an occasional taxi consumer. Can I file a complaint?

  • Brad Aaron

    Yes you can.

    Anyone who is “outside a cab” can file a complaint concerning a driver’s behavior.

    If you have the medallion number (visible in many news photos from cab crashes), basic details (available in most new reports) and, if possible, supporting evidence (PDFs of news articles), that is all you need. You can file a complaint and the TLC should respond.

  • BornAgainBicyclist

    http://www1.nyc.gov/nyc-resources/service/2599/yellow-taxi-complaint

    You actually can file a complaint even if you were not the passenger. I assume any of the witnesses in this case could do that.

  • When ABC reported on this they said (paraphrasing here) in their teasers “You’ll be alarmed to hear that the curb jumping cab driver has his license back.” Of course ABC never asks if we are alarmed to hear that in just about every other case where a pedestrian is hit and maimed or killed on the sidewalk that the driver doesn’t even get a summons or have their license revoked at all. The news is just completely reactive and stupid. And I say that knowing that ABC is usually far better than CBS in reports like this.

  • Daphna

    Yes, you can file a complaint if you witness dangerous driving by a cab driver. You do not have to be the passenger. You have to have the taxi license number, the location, the time, the description of the dangerous behavior. I think this is meant for people who have witnessed the improper driving behavior, but if you have the same information gathered from the media reports, then you can make a complaint based on that instead.

  • JK

    TLC should ask City Council for more authority to suspend dangerous drivers, based on reasonable criteria. The de Blasio TLC should create a safety taskforce with drivers, street safety advocates, NYPD and medallion owners, and insurance companies to develop legislation and new approaches to getting dangerous drivers off the road. It takes a lot of bad driving to get three moving violations in one year —- how many drivers get that many? Is that database online? Why not?

  • Anxiously Awaiting Bikeshare

    Very common.

    In America, you go to jail if any 3 of the following 4 characteristics apply.

    Break a non-drug law
    Minority
    Not politically connected
    Drug user

  • ocschwar

    Update “… And the suspect is an openly active cabbie.”

  • Anonymous

    When Cy Vance ran for office, he actively solicited cyclists and pedestrians for their support. He promised more resources for the investigation of vehicular crimes, more prosecutions, and vigorous lobbying for laws to facilitate convictions. Since his campaign and election in 2010 we have been entreated to press release after press release from Transportation Alternatives laying obsequious praise on Vance for trivial or cosmetic efforts to improve public safety for the 86% of New Yorkers who don’t drive around the city in private cars. But press releases don’t save lives and three years after his election, Vance can’t bring data to the table to demonstrate a meaningful effort by his office. Vance’s obvious indifference not just to vehicular violence in general but specifically to a case with a media profile as high as that of Sian Green’s is just one more unequivocal demonstration that TA and Paul Steely White were glad handled or perhaps co-opted from the get-go.

    Cy Vance, Jr. is a grave disappointment to anyone who uses New York City’s streets. His promises to improve public safety for residents of New York were meaningless and superficial and he does not deserve to be re-elected. I hope in the next round Transportation Alternatives won’t be duped again.

  • Bond. James Bond.

    Taxi drivers license numbers all start with 007…
    The license to kill.
    TLC and Cy Vance have to contend with that fact of life and law.
    Simple, wasn’t it?
    Or as Joe Lhota once said, “Cyclists are just going to have to get over it.”

  • Shame of NYC

    Can’t the TLC simply assume that Sian Green has a complaint against this cabbie? I mean… it was just a little bit difficult for her to file it because her leg was severed by the cabbie.

  • Robert Wright

    I moved from the UK in August last year to NYC. I had grave misgivings about police attitudes towards vulnerable road users in the UK (particularly the Metropolitan Police’s attitude when a car knocked me off my bike in Brixton in February 2009). But UK police attitudes on these issues look positively enlightened compared with those of the NYPD and, as far as I can tell, other US police forces.

  • Anonymous

    This is such rubish. “Without any action having been taken against him by the DA’s office or the NYPD, there’s no lawful basis for TLC to have held it beyond the 30-day suspension he served,” This is not true. There is absolutely nothing in the TLC regulations that condition an action to revoke the license of a taxi driver on action by the NYPD or the District Attorney. These are merely considerations for the TLC to evaluate in making a decision. In fact, the regulations allow the TLC to proactively take action against a driver when it becomes aware of information that a driver may be a threat to public safety. The Commission actually has the authority to summarily issue a six month suspension and up to a $10k fine (TLC Regs 68-02 and 68-21) and a hearing can be held to evaluate the driver’s suitability to drive (TLC Regs 68-20). Commissioner Yassky and the TLC are completely failing to carry out their responsibilities to protect the public from a dangerous driver.

  • liz

    this is probably the only time i’ll say this, but, where were the lawyers that should have been waiting outside the hospital for her? honestly, this is effing ridiculous. i hope this girl takes some kind of action soon.
    and what kind of BS is it that TLC cannot take action on a driver that harms a pedestrian? what the fu*$?

  • Brad Aaron

    We are working on a story about TLC cab driver regulations.

  • Mark Cosby

    Next nutjob with resentments should forego the automatic weapons and just come to Manhattan with an automobile, have a heyday with no impunity. Claiming your foot hit the gas instead of the brake accidentally is apparently equal to a get out of jail free card.

  • Rain Waters

    Drive like an idiot and maim a young lady for life. No possible penalty
    Drive away from P olice I n G eneral in DC. Instant death penalty

    BAU in USA

  • Bolwerk

    Neo-con governors, legislatures, and judges have adopted the strategy of making it impossible to make police answer for their crimes. Anything police do is “reasonable.”

  • Anonymous

    We already knew Cy Vance was a politician. Now Yassky’s behavior is totally shocking .. Well, after showing his mug constantly in the cabs, choosing a suburban minivan without gas saving technology for taxi of the future, and letting thousands of dangerous drivers on the road, he is putting the final touch with his actions on this crash.

  • Ian Turner

    Has anyone contacted Sian Green to suggest that she file a complaint? Is there any evidence that she knows about this limitation?

  • Brad Aaron

    Sian Green’s attorney and I have been exchanging voice mails and messages for the last few days. I hope to speak with him soon.

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