Cleared in Traffic Court, Hit-and-Run Killer Still Employed at NYC DOT
A DOT employee who crushed a Manhattan pedestrian with a dump truck and left the scene was not charged with a crime, was cleared of all traffic violations, and remains on the payroll.
It is unknown whether Harry Robinson is still driving vehicles for DOT, as the agency would not discuss details of his employment due to a pending civil case.
Robinson, 64, was found not guilty in traffic court on May 9 of failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to exercise due care in the killing of Roxana Buta, according to DMV records.
At approximately 1:30 a.m. on May 24, 2012, as Buta crossed Broadway at 14th Street, in the crosswalk and with the light, Robinson made a right turn, ran her over and kept going.
An aspiring actress, Buta was on her way home to East Harlem from the restaurant where she worked. She was 21.
Last June it was reported that Buta’s killer had been identified. Though Robinson’s name was not released, the attorney hired by Buta’s family said police confirmed that the driver worked for DOT. Streetsblog contacted DOT last year to verify that the driver was an agency employee and, if so, whether the driver continued to operate DOT vehicles on the job, but received no response.
DOT told us this week that Robinson has worked as a highway repair worker since 2000. A spokesperson said that, due to pending litigation, the agency was prohibited from answering specific questions, including whether internal protocols or contract rules govern the disciplining or firing of DOT employees. Buta’s family has filed a civil suit claiming negligence on the part of Robinson, DOT, the Department of Design and Construction, and Mack Trucks.
A Department of Sanitation spokesperson told Streetsblog that agency is guided by internal policies in dealing with employees who are involved in serious crashes while on the job, but did not elaborate on what those policies are. We have also reached out to the Parks Department.
The Post reports that Robinson took the corner “at an unknown speed.” Also unknown: what steps, if any, NYPD and District Attorney Cy Vance took to measure Robinson’s speed, a factor that would have determined whether Buta lived or died. But police did say Buta was talking on a cell phone and had a blood alcohol level of .06, which is perfectly legal while walking.
Robinson was reportedly excused from prosecution because authorities could not prove he knew he had run Buta over. If this is true — Vance’s office does not discuss vehicular crimes cases, even when no charges are filed — it would mean leaving the scene was the only charge considered.
Buta was one of at least 37 pedestrians and cyclists killed by hit-and-run drivers in NYC since January 2012, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog. Council Member Leroy Comrie this week announced legislation that would force NYPD to report on its handling of hit-and-run crash investigations.