NYPD Clears Hit-and-Run Driver and Blames Deceased Victim in the Press

NYPD says a man struck by a hit-and-run driver in East Harlem killed himself by lying in the street. While psychologizing the deceased victim to the press, police defended the driver, and filed no charges against him for leaving the scene of a fatal crash.

Christopher Costa was hit on Madison Avenue at E. 115th Street between 9:30 and 10 p.m. Tuesday. Yesterday the Daily News reported that after Costa was struck, “several motorists drove around his body without even stopping.”

Christopher Costa was killed in East Harlem by a hit-and-run driver who was not charged. Photo via Daily News
Christopher Costa was killed in East Harlem by a hit-and-run driver who was not charged. Photo via Daily News

“He was face up, but his skull was open,” witness Vivian Rolon told the News. “The cars didn’t stop. They just kept driving around him.”

Costa was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Today the News and the Post reported that, according to anonymous police sources, Costa laid down in the street before he was run over. According to the News, in one video of the crash Costa “suddenly [shows] up lying motionless in the roadway behind a speeding car.” That video was posted by DNAinfo and is embedded above.

The News reported that a second video, which NYPD has not released to the press, “shows Costa walking into the street and lying down in a prone position before he was struck.” It’s unclear why NYPD released one video but not the one that depicts the police account of the crash.

The Post said Costa “committed suicide.” Two unnamed people, cited as “a police source and a witness,” told the News “Costa had a serious drug problem and had been drinking.” Police also noted that Costa was “wearing all black.”

While speculating to the media on the motives and actions of a victim who can’t speak for himself, with a helping of juicy gossip concerning his personal life, unnamed police sources absolved the driver, whose identity was shielded.

From the News:

The driver who struck Costa did not stop but cops later located him. He is not being charged because cops believe he did not know he had hit somebody.

The driver told cops he mistook Costa lying in the road for a pile of garbage, a police source said. He couldn’t swerve out of the way because he was boxed in by two cars, he told cops.

Leaving the scene of a crash that results in death is a felony in New York State. For prosecutors to get a conviction, they must prove to the court that the motorist knew or had reason to know a collision occurred. By declining to file charges and let the justice system run its course, NYPD acted as judge and jury to exonerate the driver who killed Christopher Costa.

Costa was the third pedestrian killed by a driver in the last two months who, according to NYPD, died after lying in the street. John Bangura, the cab driver who allegedly killed Kenya Flores on First Avenue, was charged with leaving the scene. He told authorities he thought he hit a pothole.

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