Charges Reduced in Manhattan Hit-and-Run Death of Charity Hicks

Scene of the Midtown crash that killed Charity Hicks. Image: WNBC
Scene of the Midtown crash that killed Charity Hicks. Image: WNBC

Charges have been reduced against a driver who allegedly killed a woman on a Manhattan sidewalk and fled the scene.

On May 31, 2014, Thomas Shanley drove a Dodge SUV onto the curb on 10th Avenue near W. 34th Street, striking a pole that fell on Charity Hicks, according to a criminal court complaint and Gothamist. Hicks, who lived in Detroit and was in the city for a conference, suffered injuries to her head and chest. She died weeks later. A second pedestrian was also injured.

Charity Hicks. Photo via Gothamist
Charity Hicks. Photo via Gothamist

The criminal court complaint said video reviewed by NYPD showed the SUV driver “swerve across two lanes of traffic and onto the sidewalk” on 10th Avenue. Shanley’s cell phone, which was recovered at the scene, indicated that the user was sending a text message at the time of the collision, according to the complaint.

Investigators found Shanley, who fled the scene on foot, in New Jersey and arrested him in August 2014, the Daily News reported. He was on parole at the time of the crash.

District Attorney Cy Vance initially charged Shanley with manslaughter and felony leaving the scene — class C and D felonies, respectively. However, the current charges against him are (class D) felony leaving the scene, criminally negligent homicide (a class E felony), and leaving the scene of an incident without reporting (a class A misdemeanor). Vance’s office declined comment on why the manslaughter charge was dismissed, as the case remains open.

In New York City, motorists accused in deadly hit-and-run crashes usually face a top charge of leaving the scene — assuming they are prosecuted at all — and are rarely charged for taking a life. So though the top charge in this case was reduced to felony leaving the scene, it’s noteworthy that Vance elected to pursue a homicide charge and succeeded in securing an indictment.

Class D felonies carry a maximum penalty of seven years in prison. Shanley is expected to go to trial in March. He has been in jail since pleading not guilty in January 2015, court records say.

  • Shanley’s father was a cop: Police Officer Thomas Shanley, died of a heart attack while on the job in July 1986.

    Shanley’s mother, Lorraine Shanley, is very active in Survivors of the Shield, a support group for police widows and orphans and she currently serves as the Secretary/Treasurer of this organization. There are a lot of photos online showing Lorraine Shanley posing with various NYPD biggies.

    Lorraine Shanley’s name also shows up as a Board of Trustees member for the New York City Police Museum.

  • djx

    So he is probably getting some “professional courtesy” from others in law enforcement. How nice.

  • BB

    Thats amazing,

    On parole, using a cell phone, veering across two lanes, running away after killing someone.

    For you a slap on the wrist.

  • Presumably Shanley left the scene with the expectation that his mother could help him. When he left the scene, as noted, he left his cellphone in the car. It was not a stolen car. They knew who the driver was from right after the crash. Then nothing happened. Charity Hicks was still alive. The crash was not taken seriously.

    Charity died on July 8th. On July 25th the officers that had responded to the crash, and their lieutenant, learned for the first time that she had died. One week later Shanley was finally arrested.

  • The officer that accompanied Charity to the hospital, and his lieutenant, learned of Charity’s death only by happenstance. This was 17 days after she died. There does not appear to be any mechanism to report back to the police the later deaths from crashes. Or if there is, it failed for this one.

  • neroden

    The one and only question that matters to me: is Shanley, the killer driver, going to *lose his license* and be *prohibited from driving* in the future? Because that’s the only question which matters when it comes to public safety.

  • Pat

    I think the DA can, and could in the old days, reduce charges as he sees fit. It will be tough to get a conviction even on the reduced charges.

  • Pat

    That’s a pretty nasty allegation, considering it says right in the article that even the reduced charges are unusual in a case like this.

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