Witness: Speeding Driver Ran Red and Struck Cyclist. NYPD: Nah, Victim’s Fault.

A Citi Bike rider suffered severe head trauma in a collision that NYPD claims he caused. But the only witness interviewed in the press says the victim was following the rules.

NYPD has a credibility problem when it comes to describing traffic crashes, but the media has been slow to catch on. Image via WCBS
NYPD has a credibility problem when it comes to describing traffic crashes, but the media has been slow to catch on. Image via WCBS

NYPD was in typical victim-blaming mode after a cab driver seriously injured a man on a Citi Bike in Chelsea yesterday. Police told the media the victim ran a red light, but the only eyewitness cited in press accounts said the cyclist had a green and it was the driver who violated his right of way.

Sunday’s incident fits the pattern of NYPD publicly blaming crash victims who can’t speak for themselves before investigations conclude. Over a 15-day span in June and July, motorists killed four people riding bikes — Edouard MenuauCorbin CarrRonald Burke, and an unidentified 81-year-old man. In every case, NYPD said the victim ran a red while citing no corroborative evidence.

Yesterday, NYPD said the driver, who reportedly works for Uber, was heading south on Ninth Avenue in a Toyota SUV at around 11:40 a.m. when he hit the cyclist, who was riding west on W. 21st Street. The victim sustained severe head injuries and was transported to Bellevue in critical condition.

“The cyclist, a 23-year-old man from Rochester, ran a red light and then ran into the Uber sport-utility vehicle cab,” police sources told WCBS.

“While approaching Ninth Avenue, the cyclist rode through a red light and was hit by a taxi going south on Ninth, according to the police account,” Patch reported.

NYPD told DNAinfo the victim “passed through the red light” but “didn’t say how investigators knew the cyclist ran the red.”

The NYPD preliminary report was contradicted by witnesses who told the Daily News the driver sped through the intersection against the light.

“The bike definitely had the green light, for sure,” Roberto Pinell told the News. “I mean, look at the bike, look at the rim, that car was going fast, that poor guy never had a chance.”

Bill de Blasio and James O'Neill can end NYPD’s harmful practice of blaming crash victims. What’s stopping them?
Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill can end NYPD’s harmful practice of blaming crash victims. What’s stopping them?

When a crash victim is dead or incapacitated and can’t tell his or her side of the story, NYPD often accepts the driver’s version of events as the official account of the collision. NYPD said Dan HanegbyKelly Hurley, and Lauren Davis — to name a few recent victims — were responsible for the collisions that took their lives before evidence revealed motorist behavior as the cause. But by the time police are proven wrong, the press has usually moved on to other stories, leaving the public to believe the victim was at fault.

After a series of incidents where police wrongly blamed crash victims, NYPD Inspector Dennis Fulton said the department, which answers to Mayor Bill de Blasio, has no plans to change the way it disseminates crash information.

The driver in Sunday’s crash, also a 23-year-old man, was not charged or issued a ticket. The News said NYPD is looking for evidence to back up the story the department already told the media: “A police source said cops were investigating whether it was the cyclist who crossed against the light.”

In the absence of charges from NYPD or Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, the driver faces no sanctions from the Taxi and Limousine Commission, leaving him free to continue operating a cab on city streets.

  • Joe R.

    And also in the news, non-police sources are investigating whether there are any cops who have an IQ over 70.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Yesterday, NYPD said the driver, who reportedly works for Uber, was heading south on Ninth Avenue in a Toyota SUV at around 11:40 a.m.”

    We now know that if a video showed that in fact the cyclist ran the light, it would have been released before 4:00 PM the same day.

    Whereas if a video shows that the driver ran the light, it will take legal action for anyone to be able to see it.

  • Joe R.

    A lot of videos come from electronic surveillance of businesses. Any reason why a business owner who might have a tape showing the driver running a red light couldn’t just put it up on you-tube?

    And while on the subject, I feel every intersection should have cameras running 24/7 with the data being publicly streamed so the NYPD can’t sensor it. I’m sure the NYPD would vehemently oppose this as it would show the rampant lawlessness and recklessness within the department.

  • qrt145

    You may already be familiar with this old story, but if not here it is: http://abcnews.go.com/US/court-oks-barring-high-iqs-cops/story?id=95836

  • Joe R.

    Ouch! I’m actually not familiar with that but that’s more than a bit scary. 125 isn’t even a super high IQ, either. A lot of the people in my circle are 20 points or more above that. Even more scary is the national average score of 104. I personally want anyone who carries a deadly weapon and makes quick judgement calls on when to use it to have an IQ well above average. That intelligence would also come in handy defusing potentially deadly situations without using force. If such a person might supposedly get bored with police work then I’m sure there are ways to mitigate that, like moving them between different locations and types of assignments.

  • qrt145

    I agree that deliberately avoiding having highly intelligent cops is questionable, I don’t think you necessarily need a high IQ for some of the things you mention. For defusing situations, I would think that “emotional intelligence” would be more useful than IQ. Even the proper use of a weapon is probably more related to training and judgement than to intelligence.

    More strange though is that even if we accept that it is easier for not-too-intelligent people to tolerate routine police work, there are other positions such as those of detectives and commanding officers where perhaps a little more intelligence would help. Where are they going to get these people from?

  • Reader

    The mayor doesn’t give a damn.

  • Joe R.

    Your last paragraph is right on point. Generally, police departments promote from within their ranks. I would hope you have enough people of above average intelligence to fill these higher positions. Given some of the policies of the NYPD, it’s highly likely this is not the case.

    For what it’s worth my father was an HRA police sergeant for close to 3 decades. Although he had his complaints about the job, he rarely mentioned it was boring. If I recall, his IQ was in the 125 area. I probably would have been bored in such a job but mine has tested about 20 to 25 points higher (probably inherited from my mom’s side of the family). Ditto for my siblings, and they’ve been bored to death in every job they’ve ever had, just like me. The exception is my present gig, which is a high-level very complex project which has drawn upon all my skills. Sadly, it looks like it might be ending soon.

  • Joe R.

    One more thing, thinking about this some more—you’re right about emotional intelligence and training. I’ve read extensively that there are different types of intelligence but we generally focus solely on abstract problem solving. Someone could be relatively poor at that but have a great deal of emotional intelligence. And this is also the reason why at best we can guess at the intelligence of animals. We use human criteria for intelligence but consider the complexity needed for cetaceans to “see” their environment with sonar. This leads me to believe quite a few animals may be equally or more intelligent than humans. The thing is in their environment the type of intelligence humans possess wouldn’t give them a survival advantage.

  • Guest

    This cries out for a class-action defamation suit…

  • AMH

    Wow, does the NYPD have a similar rule?

  • qrt145

    I don’t know. I’m hoping this is a one-off case since I haven’t read of any others, but maybe other departments are just quiet about it and haven’t gotten sued…

  • newshuman

    A lot of the uber drivers also have cameras installed to protect them from liability. My guess is they toss it in the trash the moment they run a red light and hit someone.

  • Willy Voet

    I rode by the crash. Here are some photos: https://imgur.com/a/xkF6N Not much of an investigation unit.

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