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NYPD Blames Victim After Hit-and-Run Driver Kills Cyclist Ronald Burke in Bushwick

Central Avenue, just east of Linden Street, in Bushwick, where a motorist struck and killed Ronald Burke early Friday morning. Photo: Google Maps

A hit-and-run driver killed a man cycling in Bushwick early Friday morning, and a yellow cab driver killed an elderly man walking in Greenwich Village last night. NYPD blamed the victim in both cases.

Ronald Burke
Ronald Burke
Ronald Burke

The NYPD public information office told Streetsblog the victim of the crash in Bushwick, 32-year-old Ronald Burke, was riding east on Linden Street at around 3:30 a.m. Friday when he was struck by a driver in a 2005 Acura, who was traveling southbound on Central Avenue and entered the intersection with a green light.

But that narrative does not match what witnesses told DNAinfo. They said Burke was riding south in the Central Avenue bike lane when the driver hit him from behind.

Streetsblog spoke to the NYPD public information office this morning, and police could not cite the basis for the claim that Burke ran a red light. Photos published by DNAinfo show the bike, with a warped rear wheel, lying on Central Avenue at least one car length to the east of the Linden Street intersection.

NYPD has a history of prematurely blaming cyclists for fatal crashes, releasing information that is later proven false. To cite a few recent cases, police initially said Dan Hanegby, Kelly Hurley, and Lauren Davis were all at fault for their own deaths before video evidence or witness testimony disproved those accounts and indicated driver recklessness instead.

Burke sustained head and body trauma and died at Kings County Hospital. He was riding home from work when he was struck, according to the Daily News.

The driver left the scene and remains at large. NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan told DNAinfo the driver spoke to first responders after the crash but fled before police arrived.

Police also blamed the victim of a second crash, in which a yellow cab driver struck an 87-year-old man in Greenwich Village at around 9 p.m. yesterday.

According to NYPD, the victim, whose name was withheld pending family notification, was walking east to west on 5th Street and the cab driver was southbound on Cooper Square, i.e. Third Avenue. NYPD said the victim was crossing the street "against a steady 'don't walk' light," but did not say where that information came from. Police filed no charges.

third_ave_5th_st
Third Avenue at 5th Street. Image: Google Maps

Though there's a center island on Third Avenue, the crossing distance at this location is long, with two moving lanes and a parking lane in each direction. Even if, as NYPD says, the driver had a green light, it's possible the elderly victim entered the crosswalk with the signal and could not reach the curb before it turned red.

NYPD shielded the name of the cab driver, who was identified only as being 47 years old. In the absence of summonses or criminal charges, cab drivers who kill people receive no license sanctions from the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

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