No Charges for Driver Who Killed 66 Year-Old Man on Atlantic Avenue

The victim had just left Key Food when he was struck outside the crosswalk by a driver going westbound on Atlantic, on the
The victim had just left Key Food when he was struck by a driver going east on Atlantic. Eastbound traffic is heading away from the camera. Photo: Google Maps

Update [Wednesday, August 12]: The victim has been identified as Muyassar Moustapha, 66.

A driver struck and killed a local store owner on Atlantic Avenue last night. NYPD says the pedestrian was at fault for crossing outside the crosswalk and against the light, and the driver faces no charges.

Police have not released the victim’s name pending family notification, but a friend told the Daily News that the 66-year-old man is one of the longtime owners of Oriental Pastry and Grocery on Atlantic Avenue. He had just left the Key Food on the northeast corner of Atlantic and Clinton and was crossing to the south side of the street when he was struck at 8:24 p.m.

“That car threw his body maybe 20 feet in the air. He hit him at full impact,” a witness told the Daily News. “The guy lost so much blood. There was nothing anyone could do.” Police say he was rushed to Brooklyn Hospital Center, where he died of his injuries.

“It appears the vehicle had the green light,” an NYPD spokesperson said, adding that the victim was “outside of the crosswalk” when he was struck by a 26-year-old driver in a Mercedes C300 on eastbound Atlantic. The driver does not currently face any charges, though the case remains under investigation by NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad.

NYPD did not provide more detail, such as whether the driver was speeding or distracted before he crashed into the pedestrian. “We’ll have to wait for the CIS team to come back with a full report,” the spokesperson said.

The intersection with Clinton Street received leading pedestrian intervals, which give walkers a head start on turning drivers, in 2001 [PDF]. Atlantic Avenue became the city’s first 25 mph “arterial slow zone” last year. In January, it was named a Vision Zero priority corridor.

DOT has installed traffic calming measures near the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, a few blocks west of yesterday’s crash site. Last year, Community Board 2 and the Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District asked for additional fixes covering Clinton and other intersections between Flatbush Avenue and the BQE. The BID says Atlantic has received additional LPIs, but DOT has not added the requested curb extensions or shared-lane bicycle markings.

“On Atlantic Avenue there’s a perpetual conversation about pedestrian safety,” said Community Board 6 district manager Craig Hammerman. “That area’s been undergoing a series of redesigns and tweaking with the goal of improving pedestrian safety,” Hammerman said of Atlantic west of Flatbush, “but we’re certainly not done yet.”

“On behalf of the merchants of Atlantic Avenue we are deeply saddened by this loss,” Atlantic Avenue BID executive director Josef Szende said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers our with this family that is one of the long-standing merchant families on the avenue. We are ready to actively participate to find solutions to make our avenue safer for all. We consider it vitally important to work with NYC DOT, our local police precincts, our community boards, resident groups, and all local stakeholders to continue to find safety solutions for Atlantic.”

The crash occurred on the border of CB 6 and CB 2, and on the border of City Council districts represented by Brad Lander and Stephen Levin, who both issued statements.

Update 3:03 p.m.: “I was saddened to learn of the tragic death of a pedestrian and long-time neighborhood resident and merchant on Atlantic Avenue last night,” Levin said. “Our streets must be safe for all New Yorkers who use them — in vehicles, on foot or on bicycles. My district office is located on Atlantic Avenue and I am fully committed to working with the community and relevant city agencies to confront the safety challenges there. My thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s family today.”

Update 3:32 p.m.: “My heart goes out to the victim’s family from last night’s horrifying traffic death on Atlantic Avenue. I’m deeply saddened by their loss,” Lander said. “Atlantic Avenue will only see more pedestrian traffic as time goes on, and we must continue to work to improve street safety along the corridor while moving forward with our Vision Zero goals — the lives of so many New Yorkers depends on it.”

Atlantic Avenue is also the dividing line between the 76th and 84th precincts, each of which had issued fewer than one speeding ticket per day through the end of June. In the first 180 days of this year, the 76th Precinct, which includes Cobble Hill and Red Hook, has issued 113 speeding tickets and 109 citations for failure to yield to a pedestrian. The 84th Precinct, covering Brooklyn Heights and Downtown Brooklyn, has issued 74 speeding tickets and 175 citations for failure to yield to a pedestrian over the same period.

To express concerns about traffic safety to Captain Elliot Colon, commanding officer of the 76th Precinct, attend the next community council meeting, scheduled for September 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the precinct, 191 Union Street. You can voice your concerns to Captain Sergio Centa, commanding officer of the 84th Precinct, at its next community council meeting on September 15 at 6:30 p.m. A location has yet to be announced.

This post previously reported that the driver was heading westbound, rather than eastbound. It has been corrected.

  • djx

    If you’re driving down the street, and see someone walking in the street, you can just hit and kill them as long as you have ROW. No need to do anything to avoid them. No problem. You’ll be cleared by NYPD on the spot. Heck, if they are in a crosswalk, you might want to SPEED UP to be certain you kill them so they can’t testify against you, and also be certain their body is thrown out of the crosswalk, thus retroactively removing their ROW.

  • Yeah seriously. Jeez. Also, that he was thrown ’20 feet in the air’ implies that the car was not going 25mph.

  • Martha Atwater was killed at this same intersection in 2013.

    DOT needs to make it impossible for drivers to speed here. Apparently the 25 mph speed limit signs aren’t working. If Vision Zero means anything, another senseless death here should prompt DOT to come to the community with more design fixes ASAP.

  • roguebagel

    As a former resident of that area I assure you the 25mph speed limits are as about as effective as the 30mph ones were.

  • Simon Phearson

    This is why the much-ballyhooed reduction of the speed limit was such a waste of political capital.

  • dave “paco” abraham
  • GA

    I live on Atlantic Ave at Clinton St. It is truly frightening how fast cars and truck drive down Atlantic and through intersections. Speeding is the rule, not exception.

  • I disagree. It was well worth the effort. The problem is that it hasn’t been followed up with enough design changes to make a lower speed limit as effective as it can be. That’s what wastes the political capital, in my opinion. Putting up signs and not changing streets in any meaningful way has allowed people to say, “See? Lowering the speed limit doesn’t do anything!”

  • Simon Phearson

    It hasn’t been followed up by design changes because it was never going to lead to design changes. Design changes are an entirely different kind of discussion, which we could have been having the whole time our “advocates” were pushing for a lower speed limit. Instead, they pushed for the lower limit. The pols feel like they’ve done their part. The advocates have something to slap onto their fundraising materials. Everyone wins, except for the people using the street.

  • Again, I disagree. TA has been running a campaign to fix Atlantic Avenue and lots of other arterials for a long time, longer than the effort to lower the speed limit.

    This is on DOT, plain and simple.

  • Simon Phearson

    So the TA’s been ineffectual where it counts?

  • Jesse

    What’s frustrating to me about this isn’t that the driver was almost certainly speeding and that the police just automatically buy the driver’s self-serving statements. What’s most frustrating is that in an ideal world fault wouldn’t matter.
    If you asked a normally sane person whether they think jaywalking should be punishable by death, they would think you were joking. And if you asked them whether they think any one person deserved to die because they happened to cross outside of the crosswalk they would think it’s a particularly offensive joke at that. But if you ask them to confront the system that makes that joke a reality they would throw up their hands: “what’re you gonna do?”

    The idea behind Vision Zero was to highlight traffic deaths as a moral issue. If you choose to overdesign residential streets for higher travel speeds then you are necessarily offering up some people as human sacrifices for the sake of motorist convenience. But none of the institutions — the police, the DOT, the community boards — have yet been able to make that connection. Or they are just in denial.

  • millerstephen

    Thanks. That’s been corrected. NYPD’s own website remains a different story:

  • Simon Phearson

    The problem with so frequently citing “walking outside the crosswalk” is that it can explain the factors causing a pedestrian crash only in a small portion of those that we see. For example, if you’re crossing outside a crosswalk, that might explain why a turning driver didn’t see you in time to stop (given this city’s lack of daylighting, among other things). It would have very little to do with a case like this one, where a driver was traveling in a straight line.

    Walking outside the crosswalk is just the pedestrian’s version of riding a bike without a helmet.

  • Brian Howald

    I live two blocks away from that intersection and can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been there between 7 AM and 9 PM where the northern and eastern sidewalks aren’t blocked by cars turning north onto Clinton from westbound Atlantic because the block between Atlantic and State cannot hold more than eight cars. As a result, many pedestrians are forced into the street away from the crosswalks. The same problem happens in reverse going south on Henry.

    Sometimes, just for my own satisfaction, I prepare to turn right on Clinton while on my bike, but wait at the light through the green because there isn’t enough room to complete the turn. It’s 45 seconds of non-stop honking from behind me, but how good it feels to physically compel drivers to follow the rules to protect pedestrians.

  • chandru

    I’ve noted before that reducing the speed limit would do nothing, in fact, may cause the marginal, aggressive drivers to be more of a scofflaw. We need to rigorously enforce the speed limit and crack down on every driver who hits a pedestrian/cyclist/etc, *regardless* of what NYPD considers ‘fault’. In many countries, fault is proportional…if you hit someone with the light in your favor, you can still be adjudicated partially ‘at fault. Bring that on here!

  • I tell ya, all those people who kill people with guns or knives in the city are chumps. Get a car, you’re likely to not receive so much as a traffic ticket.

  • TeddyNYC

    Atlantic Ave., especially during the evening or early morning hours is like a launch pad to the BQE. It’s also risky to cross Clinton St. with vehicles so eager to make that left turn off Atlantic quickly. Too many vehicles trying to avoid the BQE when it’s congested and too many truck drivers who act like they’re running late. It problably makes some people wonder if they made the right decision to move here or makes long-time residents remember when it was better, at least compared to now regarding the amount of traffic. And on top of that developers want to make the situation worse with a ton of new development.

  • neroden

    The core problem is the criminal gang called the “NYPD”, which refuses to enforce any laws. (While breaking laws themselves, naturally.)

    I suggest that the city start a new police department. NYPD is too sick to be fixed. The “Fraternal Order of Police” needs to be shut down by RICO prosecution.

  • GA

    Another fatality at the same intersection two days ago. Pedestrian in crosswalk hit and killed by car. Not many details yet. Conflicting accounts about whether pedestrian had light. Can we get a camera at this intersection? Stop death, increase accountability.


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