When It Comes to Vehicular Violence, NYPD Sees No Evil

alg_queens_car_crash.jpgSee any victims here? Neither does NYPD. Photo: Daily News

Wednesday morning in Douglaston, Queens, an out-of-control driver plowed into a small crowd of commuters waiting for a Q30 bus. Witnesses say the as-yet-unidentified motorist, 17, was attempting to pass another vehicle when he lost control on rain-slicked Douglaston Parkway and jumped the curb. Reports vary, but of the approximately half-dozen people hit, several suffered serious injuries. Some victims were knocked through the back wall of the shelter, shattering the glass.

Despite the carnage and eyewitness accounts, none of which appear contradictory, NYPD told the Queens Courier the driver would face no charges:

According to police, the driver “had a clean license;” he was neither arrested nor issued any summons. “We weren’t there to witness an infraction,” the police source said.

This case again plainly exposes the hypocrisy in how city law enforcers handle cases involving drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, depending on the identity of the “victim.”

Recall that a Queens pedestrian was criminally charged earlier this year after a driver who nearly ran him down said he somehow damaged his car. This arrest, which occurred several hours after the incident, was based solely on the driver’s claims to police. Not only were no cops present, there were no corroborating witnesses.

So: Bloody bodies littering the ground yards away from a smashed automobile? Nothing NYPD can do. A pedestrian injured your car, you say? The cops are on the case.

Imagine all crimes were treated this way. “I’m sorry your son was murdered, ma’am, but since we didn’t witness an infraction, there’s really nothing to investigate.” Or, “There were no police officers in the area when the crane fell, prosecutors said, and no charges are expected in light of the operator’s clean record.”

A grisly scene. Multiple innocent victims disfigured. Lives disrupted. Families terrorized. How on earth, Ray Kelly, does this not qualify as violent crime?

  • BAH! He was 17 years old, of course he had a clean license, I had a clean license the day I got mine too.

  • drosejr

    I thought drivers had to be 18 to get a license in NYC. Has that law changed?

  • drosejr, I’m pretty sure you can drive at 16 across the US at this point.

    More to the point, though, how is it that I’d be hauled off to jail if I walked down the street swinging a lead pipe over my head, not to mention if I ran headlong into a standing crowd swinging same, but if I’m tucked inside my lead pipe I can do whatever I want with impunity?

  • The law here is 16 to get a learner permit in New York State, but 17 to drive within the NYC City Limits.

  • Also, compare the property damage that Beekman was accused of to this property damage.

  • What’s amazing to me is that this kid can probably be back in the drivers seat motoring around the city tomorrow if he isn’t too traumatized by the whole thing. No one is even going to bother to re-test him to see if he’s qualified to operate a 3-ton machine on city streets.

  • Andy

    Huh? For real? Is NYPD on crack?

  • vnm

    Aaron N.: Yup. And his license is still clean.

  • rex

    Embarrassing. I remember effing-up as a 17 year-old driver. I skidded off a country road at ~80 mph, and I got ticket even though there was nothing but jack rabbits and sage brush for 20 miles in either direction and that was 30 years ago. It makes me proud to have moved to the big city were folks is all civilized n stuff.

  • Anon

    Isn’t a given that if someone “loses control” of their vehicle while changing lanes, they are either going more than the 30 mph limit, are performing reckless maneuvers, or both??

  • Boris

    We need a simple measure to rally around; for example, a law that mandates arresting the driver if a bystander is injured as a result of the incident.

    I wrote to a few people on the nyc.gov Contacts page, but that’s probably as useless as anything else.

  • Drivers’ tests don’t cover things like “how to handle your car in a tight highspeed turn on slick pavement”. This was a failure of judgment as much as it was of skill. Don’t overtake on corners in the rain, or you’ll run into a bus stop.

    And when has anyone, ANYONE, failed a driver’s test?

    Ideal scenario: Automatically license everyone to drive a car, and permanently revoke it upon sufficiently clear demonstration of inability to comport one’s self. Do away with driver’s licensing exams, and revoke after causing avoidable & irreparable harm.

    It’s analogous to voting, where you can vote once you turn 18 and until you’re convinced of a felony.

  • I failed my driver’s test when I was 17. Failure to yield to oncoming traffic when turning left. I had never seen anyone do it, so I had no idea that I was supposed to. I retook the test a month later and passed.

  • DingDong

    I failed the written test too. I got two of the questions wrong: 1) whether you have to stop when an oncoming school bus puts out its stop sign and there is a divided median (I thought this was a trick question)
    2) if you can pass a school bus on an ordinary road where the middle strip indicates you can pass.

    The great thing is I just came back the next day and passed.

  • You have to be 18 to drive in NYC, unless you take an approved driver’s ed class, in which case you can drive at 17.

  • Here in Virginia we have a law that prohibits “failure to maintain proper control of a vehicle.” In a situation like this, that kid would invariably have been charged with such here. Do you guys not have a similar law up there, or is it just that the NYPD fails to use it?

  • MisterBadExample

    Is this the vehicular version of malpractice suits–i.e., the kid won’t face charges but he’ll have so many lawsuits on his hands that he won’t be able to afford to drive? Or am I missing something here? it seems to me the people he plowed into are going to have some really interesting discussions with personal injury attorneys in the coming days.

  • bb

    Would a $254 fine be all that better?

    This needs to stop. We have gone past the threshold of autogenocide. Autogenocide is the extermination of a country’s citizens by its own people or government.

    The most bizzare thing here is the lack of wanting to do anything about it. Texting is still legal in my state.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “The kid won’t face charges but he’ll have so many lawsuits on his hands that he won’t be able to afford to drive? Or am I missing something here? it seems to me the people he plowed into are going to have some really interesting discussions with personal injury attorneys in the coming days.”

    No fault, so we all pay. And I don’t see how any 17 year old can afford to drive in NYC. My daughter wants to, but I was told the insurance would go up $1,800 per year, and I told her to let me know when she could afford it. I’m also aware that the first year or two, before you know how to control a vehicle and where to direct your attention, is the most dangerous.

    They should have kept the drinking age at 18 and raised the driving age to 21 IMHO.

  • it’s called reckless driving and is apparently against the law everywhere except new york city. nice job protecting and serving. i really feel like i’m getting my tax money’s worth.

    what’s so bizarre is that cops can arrest anybody for pretty much anything they want, they can search you at any time they want, they can look through your bag upon entering a subway and yet can’t, no *WON’T* arrest some kid driving recklessly on a city street and seriously injuring people because of it and the kid just walks away to do it again tomorrow. then one of their own kills one of us and they do anything they can to avert justice.

    the thin blue line my ass. it’s called taxation without representation. who the hell are these people protecting anyway, because it certainly isn’t us?

    i want my money back.

  • It does not make a lot of sense to blame hapless individuals or police departments for a structurally violent transportation system requiring immediate remedy.

    The vast world-wide system of transport based on automobiles is so structurally violent, wasteful, and devastating that it demands immediate intervention as a treatable and preventable disease.

    This is a broad top-down issue requiring extensive evaluation and action on the tensions between free will and large-scale obsessions with extremely negative outcomes.

    Obsessions with extremely positive outcomes is where we should be heading to cause the scale-appropriate positive change.

  • Lee Watkins

    bollards save lives. curbs aren’t much more than a speed bump.

  • Nanterking,
    you mention a VA law, and looking it up I do in fact see the that drivers in VA are charged with this violation. Do you have anymore details on this law? Unfortunately I don’t know how to find VA laws, but if i had access to this maybe i could ask my assemblyman, senator and councilman to enact a similar law.

  • Cliff


    From what I can find, the VA laws covering reckless driving can be found in Title 46.2 (Motor Vehicles) of the Virginia Code. The general rule appears at section 852:

    § 46.2-852. Reckless driving; general rule.

    Irrespective of the maximum speeds permitted by law, any person who drives a vehicle on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person shall be guilty of reckless driving.

    (Code 1950, § 46-208; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-189; 1983, c. 380; 1989, c. 727.)

    Subsequent sections cover various aspects of reckless driving (e.g. failing to give proper signals, driving too fast for highway and traffic conditions, etc.). The Motor Vehicle Code can be accessed at http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+TOC46020000008000000000000

  • NYPD wasn’t there to witness the infraction. Okay. What if instead of using a car the 17 year-old had shot up the bus stop. Would they still claim no crime was committed?

    I grew up in Florida and spent my early adulthood there. Even though I lived on opposite sides of the state I had police in two locations tell me “if a cop didn’t see it, it didn’t happen”. I guess eyewitnesses mean nothing and all I can figure is whoever runs the NYPD police academy also runs the police academies in Florida.

  • Nathanael

    Given that cops are notorious liars in court, the “only counts if a cop saw it”
    argument is particularly ludicrous.

  • Doug Irvine

    I bicycle on Douglaston Parkway and the cars speed there regularly without risk of being ticketed. It’s dangerous on a bike but the alternates are mostly worse.

    Although, it’s in the city limits, this is the suburbs. Strip malls, unsafe streets, no where to walk to. The product of a city designed by individual land developers largely unchecked by city planners. Each maximizing the use of their own plot to the detriment of the area as a whole.


    you are all ignorant. its called an accident for a reason…

  • Anonymous

    @b6c778abc0c044c56a7de021309fbee2:disqus , some truly are accidents. For example, the ones that are caused by a meteorite hit. But most of the others result from negligence, recklessness, or incompetence.


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