NYPD in Default Victim-Blaming Mode After Yellow Cab Driver Kills Cyclist in Chinatown

NYC motorists killed four people riding bikes over a 15-day period in June and July. In every case, NYPD said the victim ran a red while citing no corroborative evidence.

Canal Street at Bowery, where a yellow cab driver killed cyclist Edouard Menuau. Photo: Google Maps
Canal Street at Bowery, where a yellow cab driver killed cyclist Edouard Menuau. Photo: Google Maps

Edouard Menuau, a cyclist struck by a yellow cab driver in Manhattan in June, died earlier this month from injuries caused by the crash. NYPD filed no charges against the driver and told the press the victim ran a red light. Menuau was one of four cyclists killed by drivers and blamed by NYPD over a 15-day span in June and July.

NYPD told DNAinfo Menuau, 59, was biking east on Canal Street at around 6:44 a.m. on June 26 when he crossed Bowery against the signal and was struck by the cab driver, who police said was traveling north on Bowery in a Ford SUV.

Menuau, who according to DNAinfo lived at the New York City Rescue Mission shelter, was transported to Bellevue Hospital. He died on August 14.

“Police didn’t say how they knew the cyclist disobeyed the traffic signal,” DNAinfo reported.

Menuau, Corbin Carr, Ronald Burke, and an unnamed 81-year-old man were fatally struck by motorists while riding bikes in Manhattan and Brooklyn in separate crashes between June 26 and July 11. In every case, NYPD told the press the victim caused the crash by running a red but cited no evidence, such as video or witness statements, to substantiate the department’s account.

In cases where the victim is no longer alive, NYPD often accepts the driver’s version of events as the final word on how a collision occurred. The department’s practice of concealing crash reports makes it all the more difficult for the public to discern fact from speculation. In several cases, the NYPD account has later been proven false, but by that time media attention has usually faded.

Because he was not charged or ticketed, the cab driver who killed Menuau — a 67-year-old man whose identity was shielded by police — faces no sanctions from the Taxi and Limousine Commission. TLC-licensed drivers have killed at least eight people walking and biking in 2017, according to crash data tracked by Streetsblog. NYPD filed charges against two of those drivers.

Canal and Bowery, at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge, is the site of more serious crashes than 90 percent of Manhattan intersections. A recent DOT project improved pedestrian crossings on the east side of the intersection, but both streets still carry high volumes of motorized traffic that stream across the free Manhattan Bridge, with no provision for safe cycling.

Edouard Menuau was killed in the 5th Precinct, and in the City Council district represented by Margaret Chin.

  • harry smith

    So why? That’s the question, why are the police lying to blame dead cyclists? I have no idea, it could be the police reflect society’s prejudice and so they hold resentment and hostility toward cyclists, it could be that they’re lazy and they prefer to issue a victim-blaming narrative to avoid having to do any work, or it could be policy. In other words, the police are instructed to pervert justice in this way. Like I said, I don’t know why they do it but the pattern is pretty well established.

  • But we can’t hold them accountable anyway. They intentionally shield evidence from the public & have no effective mechanism for discipline of routine cases – you pretty much have to be a serial killer to face a departmental trial.

    In a city of 8 million diverse people who mostly run afoul of NYPD tactics and habits, we have no political interest in changing this state of affairs. Just a lot of sour blog comments & timid elected officials.

  • djx

    Add up:
    Super lazy
    Poor training
    Anti-pedestrian/cyclist bias from spending so much time in cars
    Anti-pedestrian/cyclist bias due to statements by top brass and other reasons
    Desire to seem “informed’ when reporters ask them questions

    And it adds up to terrible policing.

    Here’s a little anecdote about NYPD officers. I knew one who was also a cyclist. And there was a big anti-cyclist ticket blitz going on. So he explained to me that it was in part a response to TA or some other cycling advocacy shining a light on some NYPD stupidity or abuse. Which may be true. But the crazy part was the way he was saying it, which was to explain/excuse their behavior. He felts it was only natural that if advocates criticize the police the police should fight back against the public that they think is related to the advocates, and of course we should all understand that. It was sick.

  • William Lawson

    Cops are motorists who drive to work every day. In my experience the majority of motorists harbor some kind of resentment toward cyclists. There are multiple reasons – they have been stuck behind cyclists, they have had their intention to speed around an intersection foiled on numerous occasions by cyclists they had to give way to, they have been stuck in rush hour gridlock, have watched cyclists pick their way efficiently through stationary traffic and felt jealous. Or perhaps the car has some kind of patriotic, masculine symbolism for them which make cyclists seem like a bunch of un-American troublemakers.Probably a combination of all of this. Only cops have the advantage of being able to stick it to cyclists, so they do it every chance they get. I’m sure most New York motorists side with the NYPD in these victim-blaming stories. They hear about a cyclist allegedly running a light and think “typical. I can totally believe that.”

    A few weeks ago I had a yellow cab swerve suddenly in front of me to make a left near the UN. I had to swerve too, and ended up slamming into the side of him. Of course I yelled and slapped his window to get him to stop. Cop witnessed the whole thing from about 5 feet away, told the driver to leave and proceeded to threaten me with a ticket for the “crime” of yelling at the driver and said the whole thing was my fault for “going too fast” and not being able to brake in time (I was quite honestly doing about 12mph) . So even when they see the whole thing with their own eyes and know the motorist was at fault, they still blame the cyclist.

  • They no longer even conceive of the fact that they work for us.