DMV: Driver Who Killed Child in Crosswalk May Drive Again After Six Months

Pursuant to a New York State Department of Motor Vehicles hearing, the former cab driver who killed 9-year-old Cooper Stock will regain his driving privileges after six months.

The driver who killed Cooper Stock admitted that he failed to see Cooper and his dad in a crosswalk. After a ruling by the New York State DMV he'll be driving again soon.
The driver who killed Cooper Stock admitted that he failed to see Cooper and his dad in a crosswalk. After a ruling by the New York State DMV he’ll be driving again soon.

In January 2014 Cooper and his father Richard Stock were crossing an Upper West Side street in a crosswalk with the right of way when Koffi Komlani hit them with a yellow taxi. Komlani was summonsed for careless driving and failure to yield. NYPD and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance filed no criminal charges against him.

Komlani pled guilty last April and was sentenced to a $580 fine and a six-month suspension of his drivers license. After a June hearing, DMV administrative law judge Marc Berger suspended Komlani’s license for 180 days. An agency spokesperson told us the DMV penalty is concurrent with the terms of Komlani’s plea arrangement.

According to the Post, video of the crash was submitted as evidence at the DMV hearing.

When two DMV judges watched it, Komlani slumped his head, closed his eyes and put a hand to his face.

He claimed he did not see Cooper in the crosswalk.

“I never saw the son!” he told the judge during the hearing to decide whether he should keep his driver’s license. “I was not on the phone. I was not drunk. I was not on anything. I just missed them!”

A license suspension in New York State means a driver gets his license back once the term of the suspension is over. Had Komlani’s license been revoked he would have been required to file an application to regain his driving privileges, subject to DMV approval.

We asked for a copy of Berger’s findings. The DMV rep directed us to file a freedom of information request.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission did not renew Komlani’s probationary hack license, but under current agency rules he could reapply to drive a cab.

“I cannot understand how any judge, in any court, would not permanently revoke that person’s license when they watched a video of him running over a child right in front of him in plain sight,” Cooper’s mother, Dana Lerner, told us via email. “This man hit my husband and killed my 9-year-old child. Why should he be allowed the privilege of driving?”

  • djx

    ““I was not on the phone. I was not drunk. I was not on anything. I just missed them!””

    Here’s the thing. We need a new attitude in the US, and laws to back it up, that make actually hitting people a crime unless there is a really good reason/excuse (like the person leaping out from between parked cars, or another car hitting your car).

    It’s like “Oh you ran a light and killed someone? We’ll fine you for running a light.”

    “Oh, you didn’t run a light and still killed someone? Then you’re free to go. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

  • WalkingNPR

    Agreed. Again I say, this is worse! You admit you’re not impaired in any way, you’re not distracted, you just can’t operate a vehicle in a way that does not kill people?!? How is that not worse?!?! How is that not grounds for losing your state-granted permission to operate a vehicle!?

    Oh right, because the windshield perspective says “that could one day be me” doing the running over, not being the one run over. For shame.

  • Alexander Vucelic
  • I took my New York State driver’s road test on July 2, 24 years after taking my UK driving test. It was pretty obvious to me throughout the licensing process in New York that there was a sense people had a right to drive and they just had to jump through the right hoops to get it. It’s hardly surprising when the licensing process is so lax that these tragic crashes are so common.

  • Kevin Love

    I wonder what the failure rate is for this test?

  • Kevin Love

    The thing is, law enforcement does (usually) have this attitude when it comes to accidental discharge of firearms.

    Shoot and kill someone and you don’t get to say, “I was not drunk. I was not on anything. I just missed noticing that the gun was loaded before I pulled the trigger.”

    Not an excuse. They call that, “An admission of guilt.”

  • Joe R.

    Seriously, since the state willing lets incompetent drivers operate motor vehicles by virtue of very lax licensing procedures, they bear some of the blame here. While I’m not inclined to completely exonerate incompetent drivers who kill people, it makes sense on some level to understand these drivers don’t feel they’re incompetent because the state gave them permission to drive. When it turns out they can’t drive safety, they attribute it to supernatural causes, not their own incompetence.

    A whole host of problems would be solved simply by making a driver’s license as difficult to get and keep as a pilot’s license.

  • alexblac

    It’s surprisingly high, ~50%.
    http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/city-fail-road-test-2012-article-1.1367690

    Which leads me to think that the majority of test takers are hopelessly underprepared.

  • djx

    “A whole host of problems would be solved simply by making a driver’s license as difficult to get and keep as a pilot’s license.”

    Yes, but I think we simply need people to take driving way more seriously, and know they’ll be in big trouble if they screw up.

    I am NOT a particularly good driver in terms of skill – I’m an average driver. But that means I’m pretty slow and super-careful – I know I can’t handle 40mph on city streets – I can’t see enough or stop fast enough to make that possible. I take it seriously.

    I don’t think we need higher skill level in driving. We need people to recognize they don’t have super-high skills and proceed accordingly. More carefully. More slowly. Checking things carefully.

  • qrt145

    I, too, belong to the 20% of drivers who consider themselves below average. 🙂

  • Andres Dee

    Since the driver “didn’t see” Cooper Stock, did the court at least mandate an eye exam?

  • Joe R.

    The only problem with this idea is you’re the exception rather than the rule. Most drivers think they’re above average, and operate as if they are. I commend you for being realistic about your driving skills, and then taking your limitations into account when driving on city streets. If everyone did that our streets would be a lot safer. I do likewise on my bike. On days where I know I’m not up to par, I typically compensate by going a little slower. Same thing in conditions of poor visibility.

    I too wish people would take driving a lot more seriously. I’m really incensed when I see motorists reading or talking on the phone or otherwise not focusing 100% of their attention on what’s in front of them. I’m even more upset society gives people who kill or injure a free pass to do it again. In lieu of stricter licensing, I’ll gladly settle for a system where if you kill or seriously injure someone while driving through incompetence, recklessness, or negligence your driving days will be over for good. That might get people to take driving more seriously, knowing they could lose the privilege for good if they don’t.

  • djx

    My point is that the current licensing (and enforcement) could emphasize the responsibility a lot more, rather than raising the skill level itself. Driving a car carefully is a simpler task than taking off and landing an airplane.

  • djx

    Haha.

    Yes.

    I’m pretty sure I’m in the top 5% of skill on a bike though. For real. And I am still more careful that a huge number of people out there.

  • Andrew

    Without knowing anything else about your driving skills, I get the sense from this that you’re a pretty good driver. No driver is perfect, but you have the appropriate attitude.

  • Joe R.

    I’m reasonably sure I also fall into the same category but it doesn’t stop me from getting too complacent. My take on this is the skills come in handy for getting out of unusual situations but I try not to ride in such a manner that I need to use all my bike handling skills constantly to avoid mishaps. I’ve seen people who ride like that, cutting everything close, passing obstacles by inches simply because they can. It may even work most of the time if you have the skills. Sooner or later though something will go wrong when you’re always riding on the edge.

  • neroden

    Unacceptable. Who are the DMV judges? They need to be impeached.

  • neroden

    I have hard evidence that I’m a slightly-above-average driver. (I have never hit an animal, and I’ve made the correct maneuvers in some really dangerous situations.) And I really hate driving, because I know that there’s not much I can do about the *other* people on the road, who are tailgating, speeding, passing illegally, etc. etc….

    I take it very seriously and avoid driving when I can. And when I’m feeling unwell. Actually, I suspect most genuinely above-average drivers do this.

    Being above average as a driver is mostly about being much more alert than average. It’s not an excuse to relax!

  • neroden

    “A whole host of problems would be solved simply by making a driver’s license as difficult to get and keep as a pilot’s license.”

    Yep. This.

  • Maggie

    So absurd that the DMV would hold the hearing, decide a six month suspension is the right measure for a guy who ran over and killed a kid, then say that the suspension can be concurrent with the total BS law enforcement penalty of $580 and a six-month suspension.

    I wonder if DMV can revisit its call here.

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In separate stories published yesterday, family members of Marilyn Dershowitz and Cooper Stock, both lost to traffic violence, criticized Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance for his reluctance to file serious charges against motorists who kill people. Vance declined to apply criminal charges against Koffi Komlani, the cab driver who struck 9-year-old Cooper and his father as the two walked hand […]