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No Charges After Drivers Kill 3 People in Separate Crashes in 4 Hours

Ydanis Rodriguez and Antonio Reynoso at the scene of the hit-and-run crash that killed 85-year-old Rafael Nieves. Photo: William Alatriste, NYC Council Photographer

Motorists killed three people walking and biking in Brooklyn yesterday. In one case a driver ran over a senior in broad daylight and left the scene. NYPD filed no charges.

[Update Feb. 12, 2018: Mark Antoine was charged with manslaughter for the crash that killed Marlon Palacios.]

Rafael Nieves, 85, was crossing Grand Street near Lorimer Street in Williamsburg at around 1 p.m. when he was struck with a box truck. The driver, identified as 45-year-old Ihosvany Olive, "drove off as horrified witnesses banged on the vehicle,” according to the Daily News. He was later tracked down by police, who declined to charge him.

From DNAinfo:

Investigators spoke to the driver, whose identity wasn't immediately released, but believe the driver was unaware they'd hit and killed Rafael Nieves, 85, a longtime fixture of the neighborhood, police and neighbors said.

Investigators had caught up to the driver by Monday night, but cleared him by Tuesday morning, an NYPD spokesman said.

“Detectives concluded based on video and interviews that Olive didn't know he hit the pedestrian,” the News reported.

Rafael Nieves
Rafael Nieves
Rafael Nieves

Leaving the scene of a crash that results in death is a felony in New York State. Rather than letting the justice system run its course, it is common for NYPD to clear a hit-and-run motorist based on the driver’s word that he was unaware he ran over a human being.

Instead of acting as defense counsel and sympathetic judge for drivers who leave people to die in the street, NYPD should conduct a thorough investigation and let a court of law determine if Olive knowingly fled the scene.

City Council members Ydanis Rodriguez, chair of the council transportation committee, and Antonio Reynoso, who represents the district where Nieves was killed, held a press conference today at the site of the crash. Rodriguez said he was "shocked" NYPD filed no charges.

To allow this behavior to take place sends the message that it is OK to take a life on our streets.

To allow this behavior is to tell Mr. Nieves’ family that there is nothing the city can do to provide justice after a senseless loss of life. I know that this is not what this administration stands for, nor what our City Council will accept.

We have seen reports that this decision was made because the driver was unaware that he had hit Mr. Nieves. This is despite reports that people were banging on the truck after witnessing with shock the tragic collision.

Rodriguez, who has spearheaded city efforts to hold hit-and-run drivers accountable in lieu of action by state lawmakers, said he intends to meet with NYPD concerning the case. He announced a January 26 City Council hearing “to discuss where we need to strengthen our hand to prevent this senseless violence.”

Rafael Nieves was killed in the 90th Precinct.

About four hours later, the driver of a delivery truck hit 70-year-old Iosif Plazinskiy on Avenue X near Coney Island Avenue in Sheepshead Bay, the News reported.

NYPD released multiple conflicting accounts of the crash. According to WPIX, police said Plazinskiy “was attempting to overtake the box truck when it turned right and collided with him,” causing the victim to fall off his bike before he “was run over by the truck’s rear tires.”

NYPD told the News the driver knocked the victim off his bike and “struck Plazinskiy again as the driver ... veered to the right,” but police sources later said Plazinskiy “slipped under the moving box truck after stepping out from between two parked cars."

Plazinskiy, who migrated from Odessa to Brighton Beach in the 1990s, died at Coney Island Hospital. The driver was identified as Yun Hui Li, 50. "No charges were filed," the News said.

Iosif Plazinskiy was killed in the 61st Precinct, and in the City Council district represented by Chaim Deutsch.

At around 5:20 p.m., Mark Antoine, 40, drove into five cars and hit 43-year-old Marlon Palacios as the victim walked to pick up his 4-year-old son from day care. Palacios also had a 9-year-old son.

Police said Antoine had a “medical episode” and “lost control” of his Nissan SUV.

From the News:

Palacios’ distraught relatives rushed out to Avenue A and Linden Blvd. after the hardworking maintenance man and father of two didn’t come home and didn’t pick up his phone.

“He was the sweetest man in the world,” Palacios’ sister Edna said, adding that he worked in Manhattan and lived near the crash scene.

“I can’t believe it. I don’t know what I’m going to tell our mother. I can’t believe it,” his sister said through tears.

NYPD told the press Antoine had a seizure caused by multiple sclerosis. New York City district attorneys have prosecuted motorists who killed people after getting behind the wheel when they knew they were medically unfit to drive. But NYPD explained away Antoine’s actions.

“Sources said Antoine's leg stiffened up and locked against the gas pedal,” the News reported. “He was not charged.”

Marlon Palacios was killed in the 67th Precinct, and in the City Council district represented by Inez Barron.

New York City motorists have killed at least seven people walking and biking in the first 10 days of 2017.

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