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NYPD Crash Investigations

Monday: Rally for Victims of Traffic Violence Failed by Ray Kelly’s NYPD

4:32 PM EDT on June 6, 2012

A Transportation Alternatives event on Monday will again call attention to NYPD's shoddy crash investigation protocols.

On July 10, 2011, at approximately 1:50 a.m., 28-year-old Clara Heyworth was crossing Vanderbilt Avenue in Fort Greene when she was hit by driver Anthony Webb. She died the following day.

Webb, 43, was charged with a number of violations, including operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, operation of a motor vehicle by an unlicensed driver, reckless driving, reckless endangerment, and a top charge of assault. But as Gothamist reported in February, prosecutors told Heyworth's husband Jacob Stevens, who witnessed the crash, that Webb’s breath test results were probably not admissible in court. Though the machine used to administer the test was later found to be working properly, the 88th Precinct had not performed a required calibration for four years.

In addition, because officers were told Heyworth was not likely to die, according to NYPD, the Accident Investigation Squad did not go to the scene until at least three days after the crash, and only then after Stevens informed the Brooklyn district attorney's office of her death. Said Stevens: "[T]he skid marks were gone, and when they checked the cameras, the one camera that might have caught the driver and all the impact had been wiped clean after several days. They got there too late to recover vital physical evidence." As a result, Stevens said, Webb will be charged only for driving without a license and an insurance violation.

NYPD's investigation into the death of cyclist Stefanos Tsigrimanis was also compromised by the "likely to die" rule. AIS did not begin its investigation until nine days after Tsigrimanis was fatally struck by a motorist on Brooklyn's Grand Avenue, and did not revisit the scene until 46 days after the crash. After interviewing the driver and another motorist, both of whom said they did not see Tsigrimanis until the moment of impact, AIS investigators blamed Tsigrimanis — and no one else — for the collision.

On Monday, members of Heyworth's family will join Transportation Alternatives and other New Yorkers in a rally at City Hall to highlight the failure of NYPD's traffic investigation policies. It will be the first such event since a February City Council hearing on NYPD traffic enforcement. The department has yet to adopt any reforms to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists in the wake of the hearing.

The rally will begin at 9 a.m. on the steps of City Hall.

Anthony Webb is scheduled to appear in court next Wednesday.

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