A suspect was arrested and charged in the hit-and-run killing of cyclist Can Reng Ma in Sheepshead Bay, and NYPD is making exculpatory statements on the alleged driver’s behalf.
Junior Hicks was charged with one count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury, a class D felony, according to court records. WABC reported that Hicks, 31, is from Queens.
On Tuesday Ma, 54, was riding his bike on Avenue U, on the way home from his job at a nearby lumber supply company, when he was fatally struck by the driver of a rented box truck. Police arrested Hicks yesterday afternoon.
No charges were filed for the act of taking Can Reng Ma’s life.
WABC spoke with relatives and friends of the victim, who reportedly came to the U.S. from China seven years ago:
Around the warehouse, Can Reng was known for his work ethic, generosity, a humble soul who adored his wife, daughter, and teenage son.
“We do love him, we feel so sorry about him,” [co-worker Kimmie] Kwok said.
Police told the press the person who killed Ma may not have seen him — a ready-made defense, since under state law prosecutions for hit-and-run crashes hinge on whether it can be proven that the driver knew or had reason to know a collision occurred. The vast majority of New York City motorists involved in hit-and-run crashes resulting in injury and death are never charged with a crime.
After Hicks was taken into custody, an NYPD spokesperson told Gothamist a “preliminary investigation indicates that Hicks did not know he had struck someone.”
Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, issued a statement today praising police for making an arrest, and called on NYPD to stop “making unauthorized statements to news outlets even though evidence [is] still being collected.”
This reflexive victim-blaming is not an isolated incident, but only the latest example of a longstanding pattern that prejudices the outcome of collision investigations and hardens the public perception that drivers should not be held accountable for dangerous choices, and crash victims should not be given the benefit of the doubt. If the City is going to get to Vision Zero, the NYPD has an essential role to play in changing the culture, so that New Yorkers understand that collisions like the one that has devastated the family of Can Reng Ma are preventable.
Hicks is free on bond, according to court records, and his next court appearance is scheduled for March.