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Brooklyn DA Charges Driver With Manslaughter for Killing Victoria Nicodemus

4:03 PM EDT on June 28, 2016

The allegedly unlicensed driver who killed Victoria Nicodemus on the sidewalk faces a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Her family says Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson is OK with that.
After getting pressure from the victim's family, DA Ken Thompson, right, filed felony charges against the driver who veered onto a Fort Greene sidewalk and killed Victoria Nicodemus, left, in December.
The allegedly unlicensed driver who killed Victoria Nicodemus on the sidewalk initially faced only a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.

A grand jury has indicted Marlon Sewell for second-degree manslaughter six months after he jumped a curb in Fort Greene and killed 30-year-old Victoria Nicodemus while driving with a suspended license, Gothamist reports. Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson had refrained from pressing felony charges until Nicodemus's family pressured his office to take action.

On December 6, Sewell, driving a Chevy SUV on eastbound Fulton Street, veered onto a crowded sidewalk instead of slowing down for a bus pulling into a stop near S. Portland Avenue, according to witnesses. He struck Nicodemus, her boyfriend, and another person.

"The bus stop was right there. He didn’t realize it was stopping," a witness told the Daily News. "The driver went up on the curb trying to avoid it. He was going pretty fast."

At first Thompson charged Sewell only with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, an unclassified misdemeanor, and operating a motor vehicle uninsured, a traffic infraction. The maximum penalty for the misdemeanor is 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Last month it appeared that Thompson's office would not be pursuing any further charges against Sewell. While Thompson is considered a leader on street safety, he nevertheless has a history of declining to file charges against drivers who kill people.

Nicodemus's brother Hank Miller told Streetsblog earlier this month that he was advocating for Thompson "to go out on a limb a little bit" by pursuing the charges when they might not win a conviction. "It seems to my family that they’re really beginning to be OK with just standing pat on the misdemeanor charges, and for us that’s unacceptable," he said.

The family launched an online petition calling on the DA to "at minimum" bring the case before a grand jury for a full investigation of the crash. Miller told Gothamist that he believed the petition's 1,800 signatures sent Thompson a clear message that led to this week's indictment.

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