DA Robert Johnson: No Charges for Driver Who Killed Child on Bronx Sidewalk

Bronx DA Robert Johnson filed no charges against the driver who hit 10 people, including at least three children, on a sidewalk outside a school, killing 8-year-old Rylee Ramos.
Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson filed no charges against the driver who hit 10 people, including at least three children, on a sidewalk outside a Kingsbridge Heights school, killing 8-year-old Rylee Ramos.

Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson filed no charges against a motorist who drove on a sidewalk outside a Bronx school in October, striking 10 people and killing 8-year-old Rylee Ramos.

New York City motorists have killed at least eight children age 14 and under in 2014 — one in the Bronx, two in Manhattan, and five in Brooklyn — according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog. NYPD and city DAs charged just one driver for causing a death.

On Friday, October 24, Sonia Rodriguez backed onto a curb outside PS 307 on Eames Place in Kingsbridge Heights as children exited the school after dismissal, according to the Daily News. At least three of the people she hit were children. A classmate and friend of Rylee’s was hospitalized, along with a 4-year-old girl and four women, the News said. Rylee’s mother was among the victims.

Rodriguez pinned Rylee to a pole with her car. “She must have not put her brakes on, and the car comes zooming out toward where the kids are coming out of the school,” witness Lenora Croft told the Daily News, which posted video of the crash. “What finally stopped the car was the green pole — and that’s where the little girl was standing.”

Rylee was pronounced dead at Saint Barnabas Hospital.

The Times reported in October that Rodriguez was questioned and released by NYPD. At that time a source with Johnson’s office told Streetsblog the crash was under investigation.

That was seven weeks ago. When as of last week the case hadn’t turned up in an online database of court records — likely indicating that no charges were filed — Streetsblog asked Johnson’s office for an update. Our message was not returned.

On December 11, the Riverdale Press reported that Rodriguez, whom the paper did not identify by name, “has not been charged, though police said an investigation is ongoing.”

Some perspective on “ongoing” crash investigations: The investigation into the death of 9-year-old Cooper Stock was officially open for months after Manhattan DA Cy Vance’s office told family members no charges would be filed against the cab driver who killed him.

The Riverdale Press story says PS 307 parents are desperate for safety measures near the school, an area where motorists routinely drive recklessly.

Rylee’s family members have asked for speed bumps on surrounding streets, and speed cameras and crossing guards. In lieu of improvements, says the Riverdale Press, volunteers are attempting to slow motorists near the school with barricades and cones, and by directing traffic as students cross the streets at the beginning and end of each school day.

“It’s not fair that my niece’s death is going to be in vain because no one is doing anything,” Rylee’s aunt Joanna Torres told the Press. “This is supposed to be a safe haven, a safe place. Kids did not want to come back to school because of this.”

  • Mark Walker

    Sidewalks around schools, routes to school, and other sensitive areas should be protected by bollards. And not plastic ones — heavy metal bollards with real car-stopping, child-protecting power. The honor system isn’t working.

  • Adrian

    Didn’t I hear that the driver tried to flee the scene on foot, before being dragged back by one of the parents? Was that wrong, or does that not count as leaving the scene?

  • Brad Aaron

    That was reported, but the Daily News said that, according to police and a witness, she wasn’t trying to leave the scene. The witness said she was scared by a crowd of people coming toward her, and moved away from them.

    For what that’s worth.

  • ADN

    WAIT. WHAT?!?!

  • Parent

    Mayor de Blasio will issue a statement on this injustice as soon as he’s done fulfilling the wish of wealthy campaign donors by banning carriage horses over the objections of the majority of New Yorkers.

  • AnoNYC

    Revoke license? If you kill or seriously injure in NYC with an automobile, you should loose your license to drive.

  • Trillobite

    I think 2015 needs to be filled with campaigns, articles, videos and more to enlighten DA’s in NYC.

  • tbatts666

    It’s open season on children in NYC!!

  • Alicia

    Doesn’t matter. If you drive without a license and kill someone, you’ll only get a token fine.

  • Sick of this

    This DA has been in office for 25 years. For the past 9 years he has been the longest-serving DA in Bronx history. Getting a bit long in the tooth, perhaps?

  • Brad Aaron

    “A spokesperson for Bronx DA Robert Johnson’s office told us that since there was no arrest and no investigation, there was not enough evidence to prove criminality.”

    http://gothamist.com/2014/12/19/bronx_rylee_ramos_death.php

  • De Blasio can be criticised for many things, including his appointment of Giuliani’s police commissioner, his overall lack of interest in safe streets, and being in the pocket of the taxi industry.

    But he should be praised for his desire to outlaw the cruelty to animals that goes on in Central Park. Animal abuse is inherently wrong, even if a majority of citizens want to keep practicing it or refuse to acknowledge it.

  • ocschwar

    So the investigation that was ongoing, wasn’t.

  • ocschwar

    It might be time for New Yorkers to consider copying the tactics of the Stop De Kindermord movement.

  • com63

    There was a video of this. She was illegally backing down the street so she wouldn’t have to drive around the block. How is that not criminality!!! There is video, what more do we need!

  • Larry Littlefield

    At least we have a measure of relative worth.

    Seniors $400. Children nothing.

  • Drivers who cause injury need to be publicly named and shamed as do the officials responsible for letting them go. These motor criminals need hounding until they are locked up and the world is a safer place.

  • JDC

    There’s no better way to illustrate the way we value property over people than the way vehicle-related crimes are prosecuted. Grand larceny of a vehicle is an automatic felony in NYS, but killing someone with a car usually results in the equivalent of a parking ticket.

  • ThereIveSaidIt

    Not only that but she tried to flee the scene. In most other states (and countries) the DA would have had no trouble at all filing charges (and ultimately proving them). In New York, there is an institutional culture of laziness and incompetence in the criminal justice system. Their excuse for not prosecuting is that it’s “too hard” to make charges stick. This is just another way of saying that they’re not prepared to investigate vehicular homicides with the same vigor with which they do other crimes. In cases of financial fraud they will often spend months or years poring over millions of documents, records and emails to build a case. When kids get killed by criminally reckless drivers they can’t even be bothered to hunt down security camera footage to prove a driver’s guilt, and the word of multiple witnesses is considered “inadmissible.” Even when they have a dashcam video of the crime which proves guilt almost beyond doubt, it doesn’t make a jot of difference to them.

  • Canarsie Yankee

    Driving on the sidewalk. No big deal. Those things could happen to anyone. Why, quite often, when going about my business, I wonder “Where did this sidewalk come from and why is it under me?” They just pop up out of nowhere like chupacabras.

  • Curb Jumping NYC
  • neroden

    He should be really easy to vote out with a “Stop murdering children” movement… 25 years, he’ll probably just quit if there’s a serious campaign against him.

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