No Charges From Cy Vance for Cab Driver Who Maimed Tourist Sian Green

The cab driver who hit a cyclist and drove onto a Midtown sidewalk, severing the leg of British tourist Sian Green, will not be charged with a crime by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.

Here is a statement from Joan Vollero, Vance’s deputy communications director, released to the media today:

“Following a thorough, two-month-long investigation by the District Attorney’s Office and the NYPD, we have concluded that criminal charges cannot be filed in this case. In making this determination, prosecutors who are specially trained in vehicular crimes reviewed all available evidence and took into consideration relevant sections of the State’s Vehicle and Traffic Laws. They conducted interviews with multiple eyewitnesses, the taxi driver, the bicyclist, and injured parties, reviewed all available video surveillance, listened to numerous 911 calls, and retrieved the taxi’s ‘black box’ data. We are sensitive to the trauma faced by Ms. Green and others injured in vehicular crashes, and notified the attorneys and representatives for all parties last week of this decision.”

The August 20 crash attracted international attention, and Vance’s office and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly announced investigations, which is never a given following a serious traffic collision in NYC. Cab driver Mohammad Faysal Himon pleaded guilty to a suspension summons and surrendered his hack license on August 23, but reclaimed it a month later.

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.

After reportedly arguing with a bike messenger, Himon drove a quarter of a block on a Midtown sidewalk with the cyclist on the hood before slamming into Green. He confessed to the media that he intentionally stepped on the gas before mounting the curb.

“The Green Family is shocked by this news, and disappointed,” said Green’s attorney Dan Marchese, in a statement. Marchese said a Vance assistant DA “indicated that failure to charge was due to lack of evidence regarding the taxi cab driver’s intent during the investigation phase.”

There is no doubt that New York State laws can make it difficult to convict drivers on charges of deadly recklessness. But by declining to prosecute even the most brazen acts of vehicular violence, and failing to mount a concerted campaign to reform traffic code, district attorneys are ensuring that victims will continue to be denied justice. And in this case it also means a dangerous driver remains on the streets.

Said attorney Steve Vaccaro, who represents victims of traffic violence, via email:

I am stunned by the decision not to prosecute for lack of evidence of intent. To prosecute the driver for recklessness or criminal negligence, it is not required for the driver to have intended harm. All that is required is that the driver be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to have behaved with respect to the risk of striking or injuring others in a manner that constituted a gross deviation from what was reasonable. The driver’s own public statements would seem to be enough. This outcome tells me we need new laws, and perhaps also new district attorneys.

We will have more on this case in the coming days.

  • Ian Turner

    Drivers are getting the message. Today I accosted a driver who turned left across the Broadway bike lane on a left-arrow, striking (but not knocking down) a citibike cyclist. When I told her she had broken the law, her only response was “Yes, but if I hit you, whose problem would it be?”

  • Ian Turner

    For clarity, it was a red left-arrow traffic signal.

  • BornAgainBicyclist

    I wrote in None of the Above on the DA line.

  • BornAgainBicyclist

    Since pretty much everything took place in public with a bazillion midtown witnesses around, it’s reasonable to assume that we have a pretty good grasp of the fundamental facts relevant to the damage done and the case broadly. And I can’t resist: with all due respect, are you aware that you directed your comment one of New York City’s top legal experts on these types of cases?

  • alexblac

    was thinking about this last night. What’s his medallion number?

  • Joe R.

    A picture of the taxi at the scene of the incident showed the medallion number as 8G42. If you go to the TLC lookup ( http://www.nyc.gov/html/tlc_medallion_info/html/tlc_lookup_details.shtml?medallion=8G42 ), you find the cab belongs to Woodside Management, a leasing company. It appears Mr. Himon doesn’t own a cab, but rents one on a day-to-day basis from one of the leasing companies. However, drivers are supposed to display their rate card with their picture and name on it. It’s easy enough to use that to identity the driver, and boycott his cab. We just need to get the word out ( twitter?).

  • intergalacticSpartacus

    Unfortunately I think you are correct. I used to want to visit, but reading several of the cyclist murders over the years always followed by “No criminality is suspected” makes me choose other places to visit instead. While I have been to other cities where the risk of getting hit is much higher, the fact that NYPD has the resources to deal with this but chooses not to is very sad and made me lose interest. I still love and respect New York City for what I know of it, but the stories of how the police are towards their own citizens is too much of a deterrent.

  • chris

    There is a legal term for what you’ve described: “transferred intent” (which can be used to prosecute the driver or batter).

  • ladyfleur

    That’s good to know. Too bad the DA ignored it.

  • StandardXI

    So the bike messenger hanging onto his hood of the cab was the aggressor, and the reckless driving was a natural reaction amounting to self-defense, and any injuries caused were accidental. Like shooting a burglar in your home and hitting your neighbor with a stray bullet through the wall.

  • Annie tierney

    Good for you. I didn’t have a write in ballot so I just skipped over that line. But the question remains: what do we do next time. He faced only token opposition this time and he is clearly not up tp the job.

  • Flyboy

    You are truly f#cked up in the US. Nobody is responsible for their actions.

  • Nathanael

    Cy Vance is lying to the public in order to protect reckless drivers.

    The laws currently prevent Vance from being prosecuted for his role in a criminal conspiracy to injure people.

    HOWEVER, Vance is elected. We need a campaign to kick the criminal Vance out of office and elect a REAL district attorney.

  • Nathanael

    Perhaps the correct response would be to pull a gun and say, “It would be your problem.” Of course, the corrupt police in NYC, while refusing to do their jobs, won’t even allow people to act in self-defense.

    You have a problem.

  • Nathanael

    Cheaper to run against, and defeat, the Manhattan District Attorney. Vance is a conspirator after the fact in criminal activity (although he’s protected from prosecution by the odious and unconstitutional “immunity” doctrine) and needs to be removed.

  • Nathanael

    Oh — also worth noting — if anyone is on a Grand Jury in Manhattan, you have both the *right* and the *legal obligation* to prosecute this crime regardless of what the criminal district attorney tries to do. District attorneys do NOT legally have the right to decide whether to prosecute; that right is reserved to the grand jury.

    Judges will lie to grand juries about this, however, so you have to have guts and charisma to get the rest of the grand jury to do its job.

  • Nathanael

    Someone needs to run against criminal DA Cy Vance and replace him. Your city can’t function very well when your DAs and police are criminals.

  • Nathanael

    Streetsblog should organize a campaign: “prosecute killers and crooked officials, rather than innocent people”. Cy Vance is a criminal who supports killing and maiming people, so the campaign should be easy….

    Legally, the Manhattan DA candidate needs to be someone who lives in Manhattan, IIRC. You do NOT need to be a lawyer, though it usually helps in getting elected.

  • Nathanael

    Elected official. Organize a group and nominate someone to run against him at the next election.

    Put ads on the air: “Cy Vance supports murderers. He refuses to even prosecute them, letting them go free to murder again. Why is this man our district attorney? Get rid of murder-supporter Cy Vance…..”

    “I’m ___ ___. If you elect me, I’ll prosecute the murderers who roam our streets in cars running over innocent pedestrians. The current DA thinks that murdering people with cars is legal. I know that murdering people with cars is illegal, and I will prosecute these murderers. Vote ____ ___ for Manhattan DA.”

    Don’t be afraid to call Cy Vance a supporter of murder and a friend to murderers, because that’s what he is.

  • Nathanael

    I don’t think you have recalls in NYC, we don’t in most of NYS. You’d have to go after him at the next election.

    BY THE WAY, the Brooklyn DA is *JUST AS BAD*. You need to run someone against the Brooklyn DA TOO.

  • Nathanael

    I believe the Attorney General of the State of New York can reopen the case. He can also open a corruption investigation regarding the collusion of the Manhattan DA with reckless drivers. (By the way, all the stories in Streetsblog indicate that the Brooklyn DA is just as bad.)

    So contact Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, I guess?

    The thing is, the only other authority which can directly overrule the DA is a grand jury, and none of them know that they have the power to overrule the DA (because the judges lie to them about it).

  • Nathanael

    Other points noted below:
    (1) You need to toss out the Brooklyn DA too. And probably others. It may be worth creating an organized political party and going after all the DAs.

    (2) the New York State Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, has some ability to perform oversight, both reopening cases and convening grand juries to investigate the corrupt behavior of the Manhattan (and other DAs). It may be worth trying to work with his office.

  • Rabi Abonour

    That’s what infuriates me about this. No, the driver didn’t intend to hard Ms. Green. But he clearly did intend to harm (or at least intimidate) the messenger. This isn’t an issue of distracted or reckless driving – it’s an issue of road rage.

  • Rabi Abonour

    I know Americans abroad (some in countries many Americans might be hesitant to visit) who are frequently told that America is scary because of gun violence – maybe soon we’ll be scary because of car violence, too.

  • melty

    Maybe David Byrne could chip in?

  • BenW

    It may have escaped your notice, but we just had an election in Brooklyn. The results might fascinate you!

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