Relatives of Senior Killed by Staten Island Driver Not Satisfied With NYPD Victim-Blaming

Disregarding the driver's role, NYPD suggested Rita Palumbo caused the collision that killed her, though available information indicates she might have had the right of way.

Jewett Avenue at Coale Avenue. Photo: Google Maps
Jewett Avenue at Coale Avenue. Photo: Google Maps

A motorist fatally struck 68-year-old Margherita “Rita” Palumbo in the Staten Island neighborhood of Westerleigh last week. NYPD filed no charges and put responsibility on the victim. But available information suggests the victim may have had the right of way, and Palumbo’s family is seeking more details on the driver’s actions before the collision.

At approximately 7 a.m. on November 1, a 52-year-old man traveling southbound on Jewett Avenue hit Palumbo with a Toyota pickup truck.

From the Advance:

As the Toyota was approaching Coale Avenue, the vehicle struck Palumbo as she was attempting to cross from the east side of the street mid-block on Jewett, police said.

The driver, whose identity was withheld, was not charged or ticketed. NYPD’s phrasing gives the impression that the victim was jaywalking, though that may not have been the case.

Coale meets Jewett at a T intersection with unmarked crosswalks, the type of crossing where state law requires motorists to yield to pedestrians.

Palumbo, a native of Naples who was picking up an Italian-language newspaper when she was struck, sustained “catastrophic” injuries to her head and body, the Advance reported. She died at Richmond University Medical Center hours after the crash.

While Vision Zero-era NYPD typically discloses cherry-picked details, often proven incorrect, that shift blame to people killed by drivers, police practically never mention driver speed.

The Advance says Palumbo’s loved ones “want police to investigate” the role of the driver’s speed in the crash. “If he was speeding, we just want to know,” said Anna Palermo, Palumbo’s sister.

“The family has been told that she was captured on surveillance video running across the street,” the Advance reported, “which they regard as better than moving slowly.” However, if Palumbo ran into the driver’s path, and he wasn’t speeding, under the law she might not have had the right of way.

NYPD should release the video it obtained as soon as possible to resolve the legal ambiguity. But as a rule, NYPD shields crash information from the public, and even victims’ families.

Margherita Palumbo was killed in the 120th Precinct, where officers have ticketed 842 speeding drivers in 2017, and in the City Council district represented by safe streets truther Steve Matteo.

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