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Traffic Justice

Must-Read: 94th Pct Detectives Blew Off Near-Fatal Hit-and-Run Investigation

3:40 PM EDT on August 17, 2011

Camille Dodero at the Village Voice brings us the most in-depth piece of NYC traffic justice reporting in recent memory. It's the story of Michelle Matson, who was struck from behind and left for dead by a hit-and-run driver while she was riding her bike in Greenpoint last October. While Matson and her boyfriend, James Paz, who was also injured in the collision, knew the NYPD had identified the vehicle that struck them, they were repeatedly rebuffed by the detective assigned to the case when they pressed him about the investigation into who had been driving that night.

Here's Dodero's set-up:

What James didn't realize is that even though the ditched car was found within 24 hours, a 1990 Nissan Maxima abandoned two blocks southeast of the accident scene, the police would never make any arrests. And that the detective assigned to the case would tell James, as the victim has consistently recalled for months, that the vehicle owner claimed he'd lost his keys at a local bar that same night and walked home—and that without an eyewitness putting him in the driver's seat, there was nothing that could be done. When James or Michelle asked what drinking establishment the auto owner had patronized and whether the police had questioned anybody there or if there were any clues in the car, the officer would become dismissive. They eventually stopped calling. According to the official police complaint, the unidentified hit-and-run driver's highest offense would be categorized a misdemeanor, which seemed preposterous, all things considered.

Please read Camille's piece. This is the kind of street safety reporting that should be getting massive attention and pageviews instead of the divisive, cookie-cutter car-vs.-bike-vs.-ped stuff we usually see from our tabloid dailies.

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