Citing No Evidence, NYPD Blames Manhattan Cyclist Josef Mittlemann, 67, for His Own Death

NYPD says six cyclists have caused their own deaths by running red lights in 2017. But the department lacks credibility when it comes to traffic crash investigations.

11th Avenue and W. 30th Street, where a motorist killed Josef Mittlemann. Image: Google Maps
11th Avenue and W. 30th Street, where a motorist killed Josef Mittlemann. Image: Google Maps

NYPD has again publicly blamed a cyclist for his own death while citing no evidence to corroborate the claim.

The driver of a Toyota Prius hit 67-year-old Josef Mittlemann at 11th Avenue and W. 30th Street in Chelsea at approximately 1:49 p.m. on November 28. Mittlemann sustained severe head injuries and died the next day.

NYPD told reporters Mittlemann was biking south on 11th and the driver was eastbound on 30th, so both were traveling with traffic on one-way streets.

The News reported that, according to police, Mittlemann “blew a red light” and “struck the passing Toyota Prius.” The Post said the driver “smacked into” Mittlemann after the victim “blew a red light.”

No reports that we’ve seen indicate how police concluded Mittlemann ran a red light. DCPI, NYPD’s public information office, told Streetsblog that detail came from the Collision Investigation Squad, but DCPI could not say if CIS had video or witness statements indicating that Mittlemann caused the crash.

In cases where the victim is no longer alive to give his or her account, CIS is known to base crash investigation reports on the driver’s version of events. NYPD initially claimed cyclists Dan HanegbyKelly Hurley, and Lauren Davis — to cite a few recent cases — were at fault for the crashes that killed them before video evidence or witness testimony disproved those accounts and indicated driver recklessness instead. NYPD has publicly blamed deceased cyclists for running red lights at least six times in 2017.

As is customary when a motorist kills someone and police file no charges, NYPD shielded the name of the driver who struck Mittlemann, identifying him or her only as 39 years old.

According to his obituary, Mittlemann was a triathlete and an experienced cyclist who rode his bike “atop the many peaks and mountains scattered across the world.”

Josef Mittlemann was killed in the 10th Precinct, where motorists killed cyclists Dan Hanegby and Michael Mamoukakis within five days of one another last spring, and in the City Council district represented by Corey Johnson.

  • JarekFA

    I just love (ok, not really) how the write ups of these incidents portray the cyclist as a suicidal idiot. He very well could’ve crossed against the light, but the image they paint, is of someone just obviously “blowing” through a light at speed as if playing Frogger while blind or something. Like sure, that’s what really happened.

  • Morris Zapp

    On top of the obvious contempt police have for people who walk and bike (i.e. New Yorkers) there’s the abject laziness of “reporters” who merely repeat whatever the cops tell them, because a) lazy and b) the literal physical coziness between reporters and the cops.

  • Vooch

    Also note – if the driver was driving the speed limit of 25MPH, it is virtually impossible to kill someone. Its a relatively safe bet that when a driver kills in NYC, said driver was speeding.

  • BortLicensePlatez

    len levitt has been atrocious for years and years. once in a while he has a reveal, but i stopped reading him after i realized he was a stenographer for some Brave Hero force he thought existed.

  • Maggie

    It is crazy that three cyclists have died at 26th and 7th, 29th and 10th, and now 30th and 11th, this year alone. No charges against the drivers, no street alterations by DOT. Shame on de Blasio.

  • Ken Dodd

    If it transpires that he didn’t in fact blow a red light, would it be possible for the family of Mr. Mittlemann to sue the NYPD for smearing the name of their deceased relative? I just feel like the only way to reform the NYPD is to sue, sue, sue, sue, sue, sue, sue and sue until they’re costing the city enough to finally wake our politicians out of their collective comas.

  • 1ifbyrain2ifbytrain

    “The city spent $228.5 million settling and paying out for judgments in police misconduct lawsuits in fiscal year 2016, according to the just-released Mayor’s Management Report. For perspective, that’s over a third of all the money the city paid out for lawsuits, almost as much as the $257 million budgeted for the entire Department of Aging, and 100 times what’s allocated for the city’s Conflict of Interest Board. For even more perspective, that’s 0.27 percent of the city’s entire 2016 budget, and about $27 per New Yorker”

  • Ken Dodd

    So 33.3% or over of the city’s lawsuit bill. What will make NYC pols stand up and take action then? Do we have to tip it over 50%?

  • AMH

    RIP Gothamist