Why No Charges From Cy Vance for Hit-and-Run Killing of Noah Goldstein?

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance's office declined to comment on the hit-and-run death of Noah Goldstein.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s office declined to comment on its investigation of the hit-and-run death of Noah Goldstein.

Nearly two weeks have passed since a sanitation truck driver struck and killed 21-year-old Noah Goldstein near Columbus Circle and left the scene. The driver has been identified, yet police and Manhattan DA Cy Vance have filed no charges. The truck operator who killed Goldstein is free to keep driving on NYC streets.

NYPD and Vance say an investigation is ongoing but otherwise offered no explanation for the lack of charges when Streetsblog asked for an update on the case today.

Police found Goldstein lying in the crosswalk at Broadway and West 61st Street at around 3:15 a.m. the morning of June 18, a Saturday. The driver was not on the scene when police arrived but was later identified. NYPD confirmed to Streetsblog this morning that the driver works for a private sanitation firm.

At Tuesday night’s 20th Precinct Community Council meeting, Captain Levon Holley said the driver “may not have known that he struck an individual” and that investigators are “not pursuing any criminal charges at this time,” the West Side Rag reported. “Evidence points to it being an accident due to the fact that it was a garbage truck,” he said.

To convict a motorist of leaving the scene of a crash, state law says the prosecution must demonstrate that the driver knew or had reason to know that someone was hit. In this case, Holley was speculating from the perspective of the driver. Instead of bringing charges against the person known to have struck and killed Goldstein and left the scene, NYPD offered him a preemptive defense.

Holley also said that NYPD had acquired video footage of the incident, but that the video skips over the crash itself: “There is video of the incident but — for whatever reason — the camera jumped. So you see Noah crossing the street, and then the next thing you see is he is laid out in the street.”

This morning, NYPD’s press office said a “very active” investigation remains underway. Vance’s office said it looks into all crashes where NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad is called to the scene but declined to provide any information about the Goldstein case, saying “we cannot comment on specific investigations.” Until Vance’s office and police investigators show otherwise, the preemptive defense of the driver who killed Noah Goldstein will stand.

Trucks account for a disproportionate share of pedestrian and cyclist deaths in NYC, adjusting for miles driven. And drivers of private sanitation trucks cause more fatalities per mile than other truck drivers, according to a 1999 analysis by Charles Komanoff and Right of Way.

Because private carting firms have contracts all over the city, their drivers cover wider distances and are often in unfamiliar territory. The city is looking into reforming the current system by issuing franchises for single firms to cover specific geographic areas. A study released earlier this month also found that the vehicles used by private trash haulers rack up safety violations due to poor maintenance at a high rate, with their trucks removed from service at a rate more than double the national average.

  • BBnet3000

    City garbage trucks that trundle down the street 30 feet at a time at 5mph have cabover layouts and side guards but there’s no requirements coming any time soon for these private haulers?

  • djx

    I just want to say that DSNY gets my massive respect. They move slowly and carefully.

    Some the private haulers are nuts – flying down the streets. Terrible.

  • Brian Howald

    I thought private haulers were required to drive through residential neighborhoods at least 5 mph over the speed limit, have brakes that wake the dead, and use Christmas tree lighting on the fronts of their trucks.

    Shows you what I know!

  • Joe R.

    Don’t forget blowing red lights (without even bothering to slow down), and driving against traffic when it speeds garbage pickup. To be fair I’ve read the drivers are often paid per shift, not per hour, and aren’t given enough time to make their pickups even driving illegally.

    For what it’s worth however, between the noise the trucks make plus the ridiculous lighting it’s pretty hard not to know they’re coming from at least a few blocks down.

  • Brian Howald

    Not that it excuses drivers from driving dangerously, but the incentives for the drivers make deaths like this a certainty. Unfortunately, the city seems quite content with the status quo.

  • macartney

    The footage magically disappeared? Come on, NYPD…

  • NYer

    DSNY is the best city agency. We’d be doomed without them and they consistently do a good job. Forget NYPD, FDNY, DOT and these others… DSNY gets the most of my respect.

  • ADN

    How in the world do they say, “Evidence points to it being an accident due to the fact that it was a garbage truck” and they are “not pursuing any criminal charges at this time,” when, in the next breath they say, a “very active” investigation remains underway? If a “very active” investigation is underway then how the hell have they exonerated the driver and declared his innocence and decided not to pursue charges?

    BTW… Mine is a rhetorical question. I am fully aware that the only reason why NYPD says a very active investigation is underway is so that they can decline press inquires and reject FOIL requests on this case.

    But other than motor vehicle fatalities, in what other realm of criminal justice and law enforcement is bullshit like this allowed to happen? It’s just incredible.

  • Joe R.

    Same feelings here. I honestly can’t find anything bad to say about the way DSNY goes about the dirty but necessary business of hauling the city’s trash. It’s an amazing contrast showing what happens when you pay decent wages and benefits versus the private haulers who mostly don’t. The race to bottom with wages, which has been in vogue here in the US for quite some time, hurts more than the worker. Uncaring or rushed workers typically end up doing a lousy job, sometimes endangering the public in the process.

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  • djx

    Yup.

    Adding that I think the trash collectors work is quite dangerous, on par with being a police officer. But the trash collectors don’t go around whining about respect and putting their lives on the line so they want a little “professional courtesy” to break the law whenever the Fxxk they want to.

    Good point Joe R about wages.

  • BBnet3000

    Other than tremendous overstaffing and piles of garbage bags everywhere rather than using trashcans like every other city… (but yes, at least they’re not a danger on the roads, and in fact by blocking cars but not bikes they create impromptu bike boulevards)

  • Lora Tenenbaum

    Generally, I agree with you. However, two days ago, at midday, I was almost struck by a NYC Sanitation truck that barreled west on Kenmare and then turned, without slowing, onto Lafayette Street, making we pedestrians crossing on the green run for our lives. I even saw it coming, made eye contact with the driver, raised my hand, and he still continued with his dangerous speedy turn. (the other cars and trucks were slowing, by the way). Maybe its the makeup of the street there, because this was not the first time on Kenmare St. with a Sanitation Truck. So no…not always so slow and careful.

  • Shelly

    I find your perspective on how the law should be applied quite worthless as you are stating de facto hitting a pedestrian and leaving the scene always implies guilt. Maybe you should be asking a more important question: based on the number of turning accidents where drivers of large vehicles claim that they didn’t see or realize that they had hit a pedestrian is there actually a dynamic being played out over and over that is not being understood and that makes these types of accident a fait accompli? The answer is yes.

  • new yorker

    Hitting a pedestrian and leaving the scene does always imply guilt. Drivers are responsible for controlling their vehicle to avoid other vehicles/people.

    In what bizarro world would these both not be true?

  • AMH

    Yes, what the hell does that mean? Being in a garbage truck is an automatic defense?

  • ADN

    – Running someone over and leaving the scene is de facto a crime. It’s called hit-and-run. At minimum, it’s a sign that you are too reckless, negligent, distracted or irresponsible to be allowed to drive a huge, dangerous truck in a crowded city if you can’t even tell when you’ve run over an adult human body. “Big Truck” is not a valid defense or justification for hit-and-run.

    – Yes, there are systemic problems with the safety of these enormous, poorly designed trucks in cities and, more generally, with the business practices and driving behavior of private garbage haulers in New York City. That’s been a problem for a long time and this is well known and somewhat well understood.

    By sweeping this stuff under the rug, jumping to exonerate the driver even while the “very active” investigation is ongoing, and by simply deciding this is an “accident” not worthy of attention or follow-up, authorities with the same attitude as yours make enable these kinds of fatalities to continue unabated. We never actually even try to understand or address the problem.

  • Shelly

    The “bizarro world” you are referring to are the laws of NYC/State. The inability to prosecute for this case and many others like it is not a conspiracy by DA”s to keep criminals on the street but the actual application of the laws. In fact your lack of understanding of the dynamics of certain types of pedestrian accidents makes you a driver (if you drive) that can also hit pedestrians in the same manner.

  • new yorker

    Are you a f-cking troll or just an idiot?

    Of course hit and run is a crime under the laws of NYC/state. They didn’t (yet) prosecute the driver because he came up with the BS excuse that he “didn’t see the person”

    A DA with half a brain could figure this out but the point is Vance is lacking that.

  • Shelly

    Hit and run can only be applied when it can be proven that the driver knew he hit a pedestrian. Do you read the papers? How many times in the past years have drivers of large vehicles hit a pedestrian and not stopped claiming they did not realize they hit someone. Are all these drivers trying to run away, even in places where there are obvious witnesses to the accident? Just maybe there is a dynamic going on which you and others fail to understand. I have written about it in the past and have actually submitted information to judicial authorities in a court case where a judge in a criminal case found my information compelling.

  • Shelly

    You sound like a conspiracy theorist. Do you really believe there is an active attempt police and DA’s to let murders and criminals go free. They are applying the law, which I am pretty sure you have never read. Once again you are missing the real question which is why these accidents occur and it is not about driver intent but the dynamics relating to driver behavior that are not understood that lead to these accidents.

  • Shelly

    He will not be prosecuted for hit and run. The person with half a brain is you, an angry person who wants vengeance and not justice. This is not a unique case, have you been going off the deep end every time the results are the same in these type of accidents?

  • new yorker

    I’m well aware of the failures of the DAs. They are elected officials and it will be sorted out in the election booths.

    What is your point?

    You started this thread with “I find your perspective on how the law should be applied quite worthless
    as you are stating de facto hitting a pedestrian and leaving the scene
    always implies guilt”

    Leaving the scene = guilt. The driver here is a criminal, whether or not the DA actually does anything about it is a different topic.

  • Joe R.

    The only dynamic I’m seeing here is perhaps that these large vehicles with poor visibility are too dangerous to be operated on city streets at all if they can’t see pedestrians, and/or don’t realize when they’ve run one over. We could solve a lot of the visibility problems by mandating cabovers but unfortunately trucker’s ideas of what constitutes a “masculine” vehicle have prevented that. We could also restrict deliveries to off-peak hours but every time it’s been proposed businesses starting moaning.

  • new yorker

    The accidents occur because a material amount of NYC area drivers are negligent sociopaths. They continue to occur because the NYPD avoids “hard work” like the plague and the DAs won’t work unless the victim’s family protests and/or if they feel it will provide political gain.

    Regarding “applying the law” It could be applied to TRY to prosecute criminals or you could find ever more creative loopholes to let everyone go. The powers-that-be have choose the latter for traffic violence. (finding ever more creative loopholes to let people go)

    If we were talking “victim-less crime” i.e drug use, drinking on a stoop or even the oh so serious crime of selling loose cigarettes the NYPD and DA would take the exact opposite approach.

  • Shelly

    You are creating your own version of what a law should be. If you do not know that you as a driver have hit a pedestrian, which by the way is a common occurrence for drivers behind the wheel of trucks and buses, then there is no criminal act which is prosecutable for leaving the scene of an accident that you never knew existed.

  • new yorker

    Yes, no s-it that is what the laws says as written. However (1) You don’t have to take the criminals word for it on whether they committed the crime because basically you open a loophole to anarchy and (2) NYPD/DA actively choose how they “want” to apply the law.

    So if you take your statement at face value the city could save a lot of money but firing the entire NYPD force and DA offices because we will trust the word of the criminal to let us know when they’ve done wrong.

    Or like I said previously:

    Regarding “applying the law” It could be applied to work toward prosecuting criminals OR you could find ever more creative loopholes to let everyone go. The powers-that-be have choose the latter for traffic violence. (finding ever more creative loopholes to let people go)

    If we were talking “victim-less crime” i.e drug use, drinking on a stoop or even the oh so serious crime of selling loose cigarettes the NYPD and DA would take the exact opposite approach as done here.

  • Shelly

    Thank you Joe for moving the discussion to a place where a thinking person attempts to diagnose what actually transpired leading to a young man’s death. My mistake is that I failed to realize that the author of this story had only one intention and that was to create a lynch mob mentality (this was obviously accomplished) and had no intention to provide the facts of this accident where one could actually make an informed decision as to criminality. Sadly, when I attempted to get more info when I Googled this story I found out very little. All I know is that a young man was crossing Broadway at 61st St and was hit by a garbage truck. Was he legally in the Crosswalk? What part of the truck struck him? I do not know if the truck was going straight ahead or turning when the young man was hit. Also, your thoughts raises issues that are extremely important not only for this accident but hopefully to implement safety procedures that will save future lives.

  • nanter

    Not all of these drivers are necessarily deliberately leaving the scene, but by injuring or killing a pedestrian with the right of way, they have already committed a crime.

    In many of these cases, yes they are trying to run away.

    In either case, they are guilty of gross negligence, causing the loss of another person’s life, and a crime.

    FYI – no one cares about your amateur submissions to “judicial authorities.”

    Good grief.

  • Shelly

    We are not talking about “many of these cases” but this one. I still have no information that the victim actually had the “right of way” as I can find no report specifically describing the accident. As far as your juvenile rant concerning “gross negligence” I will trust the Police and DA to make that decision and possibly the Court system. As for your asshole assertions regarding issues you know nothing about, grow up and learn to discuss things like an adult.

  • Tower18

    Driver must be someone important’s black sheep nephew.

  • nanter

    You may wish to have some cognitive testing as you were discussing other incidents in the post I replied to. I think some “medical authorities” may be able to help with that.

    As for your name calling, perhaps you are familiar with the phrase “thou doth protest too much.”

  • Shelly

    Unlike you I strive to get information before becoming part of a lynch mob. Interestingly, in a legal blog concerning this death the writer stated that the police believe that Mr Goldstein was not in the crosswalk when hit but was actually crossing illegally and was thrown forward after being hit by the garbage truck. This is not about blaming a victim but just getting the facts straight. This may explain why there appears to be a lack of police and DA action in this case. As I said I am will to wait and actually read the police report when the investigation is complete.

  • nanter

    The problem is that the NYPD has demonstrated time and again that they are incapable in many circumstances of conducting a proper investigation. They are notorious for leaking statements absolving the driver of guilt before an investigation has even commenced. This is likely the source for the hearsay you refer to from that blog. We also hear all the time that pedestrians were crossing outside the crosswalk with the testimony provided by the very same person who killed the person now unable to contradict such a lie.

    The findings from a proper investigation are critical and I agree judgment should be withheld until such investigation has reached a determination. But first you have to trust in the fidelity of that investigation, and that is where you will find the bulk of skepticism here.

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