NYPD Defends Perp and Tickets Cyclists After Garbage Truck Driver Kills Neftaly Ramirez and Flees Scene

Punishing potential victims after a driver kills a cyclist is routine for NYPD, but the department has never provided any evidence that this tactic makes anyone safer.

Franklin Street in Greenpoint, where a hit-and-run driver killed Neftaly Ramirez, gets a lot of bicycle traffic but provides no protection for people on bikes. Video still: WCBS
Franklin Street in Greenpoint, where a hit-and-run driver killed Neftaly Ramirez, gets a lot of bicycle traffic but provides no protection for people on bikes. Video still: WCBS

Early Saturday morning a driver believed to be operating a private sanitation truck struck and killed Neftaly Ramirez, 27, as he biked on Franklin Street in Greenpoint. The driver fled the scene and has yet to be apprehended. Nevertheless, NYPD defended the perpetrator in the press and the 94th Precinct was out ticketing people on bikes hours after the collision.

Neftaly Ramirez
Neftaly Ramirez

Police said Ramirez was riding on Franklin Street near Noble Street when he was hit by the driver, who was southbound on Franklin, at around 12:30 a.m. Ramirez died at the scene.

Franklin Avenue is a neighborhood commercial street and a link between the Kent Avenue protected bike lane and the Pulaski Bridge. Despite the high volume of bike traffic, it only has sharrows — stencils that offer no protection.

“The trucks — you hear them all night long, they just fly down the street,” a local resident told CBS.

A friend of Ramirez told the Daily News he was headed home to the Lower East Side from his job at a pizzeria.

“He was a good, hard-working person,” the pal said, adding he was loved animals and video games. “They need to find the person that hit him.”

Police gave inconsistent descriptions of the truck, which they don’t think was a city vehicle. Private trash haulers are known to have a high rate of fatal collisions per mile driven.

So did police launch a safety initiative focusing on an industry proven to pose an outsized public safety hazard? Nope. By Saturday afternoon officers with the 94th Precinct were out ticketing cyclists:

Punishing potential victims after a driver kills a cyclist is routine for NYPD, but the department has never provided any evidence that this tactic makes anyone safer.

No arrests were made as of this morning. In the meantime, NYPD made excuses for the person who killed Ramirez.

“Cops … said it’s possible the driver didn’t realize the truck hit a person,” the News reported.

“It was unclear Saturday morning whether the driver knew he that he had struck the bicyclist,” said the Post.

Due in part to flaws in state law that legislators have failed to fix, New York drivers who flee the scene of a fatal crash often avoid charges simply by claiming they were unaware they ran someone over. It is not unusual for NYPD to give a preemptive defense in the press while a hit-and-run killer remains at large.

Neftaly Ramirez was killed in Brooklyn Community District 1, where the community board is skeptical of bike lanes, and in the City Council district represented by Steve Levin.

Also this weekend, an MTA bus driver killed pedestrian Kevin Zeng, 25, on Union Turnpike in Queens on Friday evening. Police and the press blamed the victim. And on Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn a motorist in a BMW SUV ran over 18-year-old Alejandro Tello, killing him, and fled the scene.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I used to be that the cyclist was presumed guilty unless the driver was drunk or fled the scene.

    I guess for the moment the cyclist isn’t presumed guilty when killed by a drunk, but maybe that could change too.

  • William Lawson

    Wow it seems the NYPD really has embarked on a marketing campaign to convince the general public that they’re actually 10x scummier than we previously imagined. I literally cannot imagine a more incompetent, ignorant and insensitive response to a person’s death.

  • Reader

    If it weren’t so tragic and didn’t actually result in more dead people, it would be funny. The NYPD really thinks they can put this whole biking genie back in the bottle by harassing people off their bikes. Just insane.

    Honestly, cops should be embarrassed by this and demand that their COs change their priorities. What cadet graduates from the police academy with dreams of pulling over cyclists for rolling through red lights?

  • AlexWithAK

    The drivers of those private trash trucks are the worst. They fly down residential streets and deliberately blow red lights constantly. I called one out once after it just rolled right through a fully red light and the guys in the truck just started cussing me out. But they know they can get away with it all because the NYPD does absolutely nothing to stop them and, as demonstrated here, even encourages them, even when they kill someone. It’s all extremely disgusting.

  • Brad Aaron

    My wife taught in Tribeca for five years. There was a private sanitation crew that regularly went against traffic down the same one-way street near her school. It was just part of their route.

  • AMH

    Yes, it’s terrifying. Fortunately the trucks are loud enough that I can hear them coming, but someone who is hearing-impaired or not on guard could easily make the mistake of thinking the crosswalk or walk signal will protect them. There is no excuse for driving so dangerously, nor for being so oblivious of having run over a person.

  • BotanistPrime

    Once again police prove they are nothing but bullies and incompetents

  • Vooch
  • Maggie

    It’s beyond painful to keep reading these. Shame on the electeds who let it happen.

  • BruceWillisThrowsACar@You

    I honk my horn at the cops when they’re clearly doing jack shit in a bike lane or regular traffic lane w/ no lights / warning lights on at all. Sorry good cops, but it’s getting to the point that all of you can fk yourselves thanks to your ‘brothers and sisters’ and COs that advocate bullshit.

  • Jaysons

    To be honest some of these bike lanes are too close too high volume truck, car,bus heavy streets. Maybe re-thinking were these lanes have been created/setup would help with the danger? Some lanes are so thin the cars and bikes are on the same lane. Just an Fyi….

  • Grumpy Calishun

    Do any bicyclists actually stop for lights these days, bike lane or not? In theory, they must obey the same rules as motorists, but I rarely see it.

    I’m not placing blame in this specific incident, I’m just asking a general question…

  • Andrew

    Yes, plenty of bicyclists do. Thanks for asking.

    I’m curious why you think this is relevant in this case, though. Are you suggesting that Ramirez ran a red light? Explain what you think happened.

    Do any motorists obey the speed limit? Do any motorists yield to cyclists and pedestrians when turning? Unlike your question, these two are actually relevant to the case at hand.

  • Grumpy Calishun

    We must not live in the same city, as bicyclists stopping for a red light in Queens and not weaving through the traffic that actually has the green light is the exception, not the rule.

    As I stated, I wasnt referring to this incident with my question, although it is relevant to the enhanced enforcement by the NYPD. They wouldn’t be issuing summonses to bicyclists if there weren’t violations being observed.

    Its also the same reaction you get from the PD where there is an accident between two cars with a fatality or a pedestrian being killed. They swarm the location afterwards to show they are addressing the issues that led to the fatality. Sure, its after the fact but we are talking the NYPD.

    And yes, if a pedestrian was killed you’ll probably see a surge of jay walking summonses.

  • Paul Benson

    We have the same on our street, they go reverse on a one-way. Dunham Place in Brooklyn to empty Patritzia’s trash

  • Maggie

    You live in a city where people die in hit-and-runs on their way home from work and the cops waste their manpower to police the victims instead of saving lives.

    When this happened in Manhattan last month, it was only days until an 80 year old on a bike lost his life the same way.

    So maybe the cops could focus on the lawbreaking behaviors that kill people. It’s too late to do anything for 27 year old Neffy Ramirez, the victim of a deadly crime, but it would win them a lot of respect and would be a step towards saving other lives. The repercussions here are 1) fatal, and 2) devastatingly thoughtless to victims’ families. Who are real New Yorkers btw.

  • c2check

    When thinking about how police allocate resources, it would be wise to focus on the issues that cause the most injuries or fatalities.

    Cyclists running reds, especially at T-intersections, is an infinitesimally insignificant safety issue, especially compared to other traffic violations that the NYPD regularly ignores, but with result in more injuries and deaths.

    I stop at reds when I bike, and many others wait with me. Of course, many folks also blow through reds, though they do usually at least look. I’m annoyed when someone comes at me the wrong way in the bike lane too. This kind of behavior is not limited to cyclists. The overwhelming ethos in NYC is to be impatient, to rush, to cut corners. I’m not sure speeding or beating reds will, in the end, save people any time (that said, I do think there is an economy to crossing midblock)

    But the way to address these issues with cyclists running reds is to create safe bike lanes, and to get more people on bikes who aren’t the “strong and fearless” types of cyclists (1–2%) that are currently perhaps the only category comfortable on NYC streets, not to ticket cyclists. If NYC builds safe and comfortable bikeways that can attract seniors, kids, and women, I suspect the number of “scofflaw cyclists” we see will fall.

    If NYPD wants to ticket folks—cyclists and drivers—running lights at 5th and 42nd, or 2nd and Houston, fine. But ticketing cyclists at T intersections where you can safely proceed without cross traffic is just low. If NYPD really wants to get people to behave on NYC streets, they should start with drivers, and do more to support safe cycling and safe bike infrastructure. Instead of doing something productive, they antagonize.

  • c2check

    They could extend the 2-way bikeway from Kent onto Franklin. But DOT doesn’t have the courage to prod the parking monster.

    Alternatively, people driving on NYC streets could slow down, since they should be well aware they’re driving a big truck through one of the most crowded cities in the world. If that means they have to drive 10 mph, so be it.

  • Grumpy Calishun

    Real New Yorker too, even if I do live in an outer boro.

    Looking at the city’s Vision Zero program, you can see that fatalities have gone down for motorists and fairly flat pedestrians and saw a spike with the Citi Bike Program – which put casual bicyclists on some of the busiest streets in the city.

    https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/visionzero/downloads/pdf/vision-zero-year-3-report.pdf

    Pages 11 – 14 for the above stats. Pages 8 and 9 for other stats, like the increase in certain summonses being issued.

  • qrt145

    “Saw a spike with the Citi Bike program”? Are you referring to the ONE fatality that has occurred over more than four years of operation? People get killed by falling tree branches more often than riding Citi Bikes.

    Also, the notion that Citi Bike users are “casual cyclists” is just a myth. Some might be, but most are just regular bike commuters who appreciate the convenience of not having to park their own bike, or the convenience of using it one-way or for one leg of a multi-modal trip.

  • Maggie

    I’m struggling to understand your goal. A private sanitation truck driver killed an experienced cyclist on a street with sharrows in a hit and run.

    Although there is no indication the cyclist did anything wrong, it sounds like you favor a law enforcement response that focuses on ticketing other cyclists, in an effort to discourage cycling in the city.

    Is that right?

    Why do you think casual biking on busy streets in the city is worse than single occupant vehicles driving through?

  • Rex Rocket

    They stop about as often as cars do.

  • relevantjeff

    If this guy was hit-and-run by a garbage truck, does it matter whether he’d stopped for a light?

  • imnovictim

    Ticketing cyclists is a good thing, both for their own safety and for those who are frequently struck and occasionally killed by them. Of course, speeding trucks are a special menace, the most deadly being the private trash/recycling variety which fly through intersections without any attempt at yielding to pedestrians.

  • Andrew

    Do you plan to answer my questions? Huge numbers of motorists routinely break numerous traffic laws – including the one who killed Neftaly Ramirez by failing to yield.

    I have seen no evidence to date that Neftaly Ramirez was violating any laws when he was killed, and if he was, I see no reason to assume that they had any relevance to the topic at hand.

  • Andrew

    Ticketing cyclists is a good thing, both for their own safety and for those who are frequently struck and occasionally killed by them. Of course, speeding trucks are a special menace, the most deadly being the private trash/recycling variety which fly through intersections without any attempt at yielding to pedestrians.

    Ticketing cyclists is a good thing, but you can’t be bothered to explain why or what relevance this has to the Neftaly Ramirez case. Meanwhile, truck drivers are a “special menace” but you can’t think of a possible solution.

    Hint: Maybe it isn’t cyclists who need the ticketing.

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The Brooklyn Paper published a damning story Tuesday on the NYPD practice of withholding information on fatal traffic crashes from victims' families and the public. An NYPD spokesperson told the paper that police just didn't have sufficient grounds to charge the Action Carting driver who killed cyclist Neftaly Ramirez and left the scene -- echoing statements police made before they even located the driver.