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NYPD Crash Info Normally Released in a “Timely Fashion”? News to Us.

2:20 PM EDT on July 9, 2009

Hours after an NYPD officer reportedly responding to an emergency call lost control of his cruiser, jumped a curb and hit five pedestrians late last month, another cop -- this one off-duty -- allegedly ran a red light and mowed down an Upper East Side man.

browne.jpgPaul Browne. Photo: Access Hollywood

According to the Daily News, Sgt. Joseph Spiekerman has been charged with felony vehicular assault and DWI for striking 68-year-old Barry Gintel with his Volvo at York Ave. and E. 86th St. the morning of June 29.

Gintel -- vice president of the Fire Bell Club of New York, a group of Fire Department buffs -- was rushed to New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell.

He underwent emergency surgery for two fractured legs, broken ribs, a ruptured spleen, and head and neck injuries.

Police officials declined to explain why they failed to release details of the crash and Spiekerman's arrest sooner.

The crash occurred at 6:40 a.m. near The Mansion diner, right after Gintel had bought a large coffee and two buttered rolls.

"I give him his change, look out the window, and I see he got hit and goes flying 10, maybe 20 feet in the air," said Leticia Guerrero, 24, a cashier.

Guerrero said the impact shattered the windshield of Spiekerman's silver Volvo. The cop got out and tried to help Gintel, who lives about a block away. 

As far as we know, there was no media coverage of this crash until the News broke the story of the NYPD's lag in releasing information about the incident. From a News follow-up story, published today:

"There was a short period when there was additional investigation underway that required a short delay in making it public," Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said in an e-mail.

"Normally, I make such information public in a timely fashion. I should have done it sooner. I didn't."

While it's encouraging that the department and prosecutors are acting on this case, those who follow such incidents might be taken aback by Browne's claim that information on traffic crashes is usually made public without delay. In fact, it's rarely made public at all. As we've written before, traffic crash data is a closely held NYPD secret (whether or not officers or departmental vehicles are involved), and obtaining crash reports -- even when your family member is the victim -- is a complex, frustrating process, for which the average person has neither the time nor patience.

Given the conflicting accounts and potentially grievous consequences of the June 30 NYPD-induced carnage, we look forward to Browne's very public release of the department's findings.

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