NYPD Denies FOIL Request for Files on NYPD Crash That Killed Felix Coss

NYPD rejected a Streetsblog freedom of information request for files pertaining to a crash in which an on-duty officer killed a pedestrian in Brooklyn.

Felix Coss. Photo via DNAinfo

Felix Coss, 61, was crossing Broadway at Hooper Street, in a crosswalk with the signal, on the afternoon of July 6, 2013, when Officer Paula Medrano struck him with a marked van from the 90th Precinct while making a left turn, according to reports and photos of the scene.

DNAinfo and the Daily News cited witnesses who said Medrano was seen talking on a cell phone at the time of the collision. “She had a cellphone to her right ear,” a witness told the Daily News. “She hit him. When she hit him, he fell on the floor and cracked his head open.”

The crash was reportedly investigated by the Internal Affairs Bureau, but the results of that investigation were not publicized in the media. Medrano’s name never appeared in an online database of court records.

On May 7, Streetsblog filed a FOIL request for records related to the crash. On May 26, NYPD Lieutenant Richard Mantellino rejected our request, citing “an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,” the same language Mantellino used to deny our FOIL for records pertaining to the 2012 curb-jump crash that killed Mike Rogalle. As with the Rogalle crash, NYPD could have redacted whatever personal information the department deemed necessary, but again chose to withhold all files.

NYPD shields information pertaining to traffic crash investigations from the public — and victims’ families — as a matter of course. NYPD is especially secretive concerning crashes involving police personnel, withholding data even from other city departments.

Streetsblog is appealing NYPD’s rejection of our request for information on the crash that killed Felix Coss.

  • Andres Dee

    Odd how there always seems to be a Police source who’s happy to share what sins the bicycler or pededestrian comitted to contribute to their death,

  • walknseason

    COURTESY. PROFESSIONALISM. RESPECT.

    God will these animals ever do anything right?

  • Simon Phearson

    Does Streetsblog have a lawyer to assist on these FOIA appeals? Because I don’t see any basis, in the relevant ordinances, for denying FOIA requests like this on the grounds that they constitute “an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” The relevant ordinance provides a list of what kinds of things count, and they don’t (spoiler alert) happen to include “NYPD officers just want to get on with their lives already.” It seems to me that the NYPD is just flagrantly ignoring the FOIA law here, based on a very casual reading of one of the exceptions it provides (which is not surprising, granted, given the NYPD’s enforcement habits).

  • Mark Walker

    Even when those sins are utterly fictional.

  • J

    #VisionZero apparently doesn’t apply to NYPD. Neither do FOIA laws, it seems.

  • Joe Enoch

    I’ve been down this road before, both with the NYPD and with Federal agencies. The only way the NYPD will release any information via FOIL is to take them to court and even then it’s hit or miss. They habitually deny virtually all FOIL requests.

  • Joe Enoch

    If they don’t, they’re going to need one. NYPD’s standard practice is to deny all FOIL requests, no matter what they are or how mundane they may appear to be. They simply do not comply with the law until forced to by a judge.

  • 1ifbyrain2ifbytrain

    Thank you for pursuing this!

  • I actually like the “Courtesy Professionalism Respect” signs on the vehicles. They show that somewhere there’s a graphic artist with a really, really dark sense of humor.

  • wgalison

    Robert Freedman is the head of Committee on Open Government. COOG
    He should be able to bust the POlice for FOIL infractions, but he is given no power. There should be riots over this behavior.

    Philip Eure is the Inspector General in charge of “systemic” NYPD issues. If ever there was one it is the NYPD abuse of FOIL, but they won’t touch it.

    DiBlasio complained about it when he was Public advocate, but somewhere he lost his balls. As Mayor he could fire every one involved.

  • Don Head

    Please keep pursuing this!

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