DA Ken Thompson Still Hasn’t Charged Driver for December Sidewalk Killing

The allegedly unlicensed driver who killed Victoria Nicodemus on the sidewalk faces a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Her family says Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson seems OK with that.
The allegedly unlicensed driver who killed Victoria Nicodemus on the sidewalk faces a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Her family says Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson seems OK with that.

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson charged the driver who killed Victoria Nicodemus on a Fort Greene sidewalk with unlicensed driving, but did not file charges for taking the victim’s life. Six months after the crash, Nicodemus’s family says the DA is dragging his feet on the case.

Marlon Sewell hit Nicodemus, her boyfriend, and another person with a Chevrolet SUV on the afternoon of December 6, 2015, as the victims walked in front of 694 Fulton Street, near South Portland Avenue. Police told WPIX Sewell was “zooming” down the street. An NYPD statement said Sewell swerved onto the sidewalk to avoid hitting a second vehicle, which witnesses said was a bus.

“The bus stop was right there. He didn’t realize it was stopping,” a witness told the Daily News. “The driver went up on the curb trying to avoid it. He was going pretty fast.”

Victoria Nicodemus was 30 years old.

The current charges against Sewell are aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, an unclassified misdemeanor, and operating a motor vehicle while unlicensed, a traffic infraction. For crashing on a sidewalk reportedly at a high rate of speed, killing one person and injuring two others, allegedly while driving without a valid license, Sewell faces a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. That’s the same penalty an unlicensed driver would face for making a turn without signaling.

“It seems to my family that they’re really beginning to be OK with just standing pat on the misdemeanor charges, and for us that’s unacceptable,” says Hank Miller, Nicodemus’s brother.

Image: WPIX
Image: WPIX

Miller told Streetsblog he is appreciative of the work Assistant District Attorney David Pan has done on the case. However, Miller says Thompson is reluctant to take the case to a grand jury.

Whether or not prosecutors win a conviction, Nicodemus’s family wants Thompson to pursue more serious charges against Sewell. “We want him to push this,” says Miller, “to go out on a limb a little bit.”

Among New York City district attorneys, Thompson is considered a leader when it comes to street safety. But he has a history of declining to file charges against drivers who kill people, even when the victims are struck on the sidewalk. Curb-jumping motorists have killed at least eight people in Brooklyn since Thompson took office in 2014, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog. Of the six cases where the driver remained at the scene and was not fleeing police, Thompson filed no charges for taking a life.

Nicodemus’s family has posted an online petition calling on Thompson to, “at a minimum,” bring the case before a grand jury for a full investigation of the crash. The petition had some 1,500 signatures at this writing.

“We want Ken Thompson and his office to be courageous, to take a stand and protect people in Brooklyn, whether they’re crossing the street or on the damn sidewalk,” Miller says. “I expect prosecutors and DAs across the city to take this issue more seriously.”

  • Flakker

    Yes. Find the “courage” to do the bare goddamn minimum. “I swerved onto the sidewalk to avoid a stopped bus. Also, I didn’t have a license at the time.” I mean, how much proof do you need for the idea that NYC is a police state? The police install cameras everywhere by bullying store owners with fake charges of selling liquor to minors, but when we have a guy confess to manslaughter he can’t get arrested to save his life. Even odds he pleads out to being allowed to drive without a license but WITH a “your choices matter” bumper sticker.

  • ThereIveSaidIt

    I don’t think I would be able to handle it if I lost a loved one to a rotten piece of reckless driving scum like that, only to realize later that some good for nothing, incompetent, complacent hog of a DA refused me justice. I honestly think I would lose the plot.

  • Maggie

    Absurd and obscene. Please bring this to a grand jury, DA Thompson.

    I get that his license was suspended for failure to pay child support, but for NYS DOT to reinstate a driver’s license after he’s killed a woman on the sidewalk because he couldn’t see a city bus in front of him is sick and frightening. We shouldn’t have to worry that drivers like this are on the road.

    Did I miss CM Laurie Cumbo’s statement pressing for manslaughter charges? What protections can pedestrians expect in her district?

  • BBnet3000

    The child support thing doesn’t matter. I recently had my license lapse because I renewed late. Guess what? I didn’t drive until the renewal showed up. A license is required to drive and unlicensed is unlicensed.

  • Flakker

    Exactly. It’s not some minor technicality, it’s the endorsement by the state that one is at least basically competent at driving. Without that it should be open season on you should you make a driving error, and indeed in many other states, it is.

  • neroden

    The DA’s actions by refusing to bring charges (in a case with an uncoerced *confession*, no less) are actually conspiracy after the fact to commit manslaughter. Unfortunately judges have invented a doctrine where DAs can’t be sued for their criminal activity in office. The DA can theoretically be criminally charged for his criminal conspiracy, but who’s going to do it?…

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