Eric Gonzalez and Bill de Blasio Give Action Carting the Go-Ahead to Keep Killing People

Brooklyn DA Gonzalez will file no charges against the Action Carting driver who killed cyclist Neftaly Ramirez and left the scene. Though Action Carting drivers killed five people on NYC streets since 2008, Mayor de Blasio has given no sign that the company’s city contracts, worth tens of millions of dollars, are at risk.

Franklin and Noble streets in Brooklyn, where an Action Carting driver killed Neftaly Ramirez and fled the scene. The red arrow indicates the direction of the driver and the white arrow indicates the path of the victim, according to reports. Image: Google Maps
Franklin and Noble streets in Brooklyn, where an Action Carting driver killed Neftaly Ramirez and fled the scene. The red arrow indicates the direction of the driver and the white arrow indicates the path of the victim, according to reports. Image: Google Maps

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez will file no charges against the Action Carting driver who ran over and killed cyclist Neftaly Ramirez and left the scene.

The Brooklyn Paper reports that Gonzalez decided against pursuing a case last week, six months after Ramirez, 27, was killed at Franklin and Noble streets in Greenpoint by an unidentified trash truck driver making a right turn.

“Following an exhaustive reinvestigation that included interviews with all of the witnesses, a review of surveillance footage, and a consultation with an accident-reconstruction expert, we determined that we could not sustain criminal charges,” Gonzalez spokesperson Oren Yaniv told the Brooklyn Paper. “We conveyed these findings to the victim’s family and expressed our deepest sympathies for their loss.”

To convict a motorist for hit-and-run in New York, prosecutors must prove he knew or had reason to know a collision occurred. Gonzalez, who assumed office after the death of Ken Thompson and was elected last fall to his first full term as DA, presents himself as an advocate for reforming state code that favors drivers who flee after a serious crash. But he has been criticized by victims’ families for lenient plea deals for hit-and-run drivers who kill people.

Neftaly Ramirez and Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez
Neftaly Ramirez and Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez

If the Ramirez crash occurred as described by NYPD — a right hook at a signalized intersection, similar to the hit-and-run collision that killed Brooklyn cyclist Mathieu Lefevre in 2011 — it’s likely the victim had the right of way. It’s unknown if Gonzalez considered charges other than leaving the scene. (I asked Yaniv if, since no charges were filed, prosecutors found that Ramirez did not have the right of way. He responded — incorrectly — that the Right of Way Law only applies to pedestrians.)

Before investigators knew who the driver was, NYPD offered him a preemptive defense, telling the press it was possible he “didn’t realize” he ran over a man on a bicycle — the same reason police later gave for declining to bring charges. NYPD and Gonzalez have shielded the driver’s identity, and according to the Brooklyn Paper have rebuffed requests to release the crash investigation report and other evidence.

Streetsblog is in the process of filing freedom of information requests with NYPD and Gonzalez’s office for records pertaining to the investigation.

A recent ProPublica report on horrendous working conditions in NYC’s commercial trash hauling revealed that industry drivers killed seven people in NYC in 2017 — and that executives believe victims are responsible for the carnage. Action Carting drivers have killed five people on NYC streets since 2008, yet the company continues to hold tens of millions of dollars in city contracts.

Private trash haulers are among the most dangerous vehicle operators in NYC. The de Blasio administration is working on industry reforms that would reduce the number of miles per collection route. But until those measures take effect, Action Carting and other companies continue to endanger people who walk and bike.

No one will be held accountable for the violent hit-and-run death of Neftaly Ramirez. De Blasio spokesperson Eric Phillips told the Brooklyn Paper City Hall had no qualms with the way the case was handled, and said nothing about penalizing Action Carting for its record of killing people on city streets.

Correction: An earlier version of this post erroneously stated that Action Carting drivers killed seven people in NYC. The post has been amended to reflect that industry-wide, commercial waste carting drivers killed seven people in NYC, and that Action Carting drivers have killed five people since 2008.

  • BortLicensePlatez

    Thank you for continuing to report on this. de Blasio is really cowardly trash, it is no surprise he identifies more with dumpsters and trash trucks than pedestrians and cyclists.

  • r

    One way to get Bill de Blasio to care about this is to tell him that Action Carting is using e-bikes.

  • AnoNYC

    Most dangerous drivers on NYC streets in my experience:

    -Private trash haulers
    -Access-A-Ride
    -School Buses
    -Drivers of older imports doing deliveries for popular fast food chains (e.g. Dominoes)
    -TLC plated

  • Barry Grant

    Gonzales needs to go. He is the poster child for DA incompetence in this city.

    If this Action Carting murderer had killed one of Gonzales’ friends, or a cop, or a politician, or anyone else with a politically protected status in NYC, then you can be sure as hell the moron would not just be pursuing charges, but pursuing them aggressively.

    De Blasio is just a complete joke, I can’t even comment on him any more. He’s one of the worst mayors in the history of New York.

  • Barry Grant

    I’d probably have TLC plated joint second with Access-A-Ride.

  • Vooch

    Brad – your headline is truth

  • Joe R.

    Black SUVs should be somewhere in that list also. It seems every time I see one, the driver is doing something dangerous, illegal, or both. BMWs would probably be in the top ten while we’re at it.

  • Sarah

    Eric Gonzalez’s application of justice is widely uneven.

    For example, under his orders, people in the country illegally who are convicted of a criminal offense that makes them eligible for deportation are now allowed to plead to a non-deportable crime (whether they actually committed it or not) with the same or lesser punishment. Gonzalez worked hard to make this happen and said his motivation for the plan was “justice.”

    However, when you’re a victim run down by a driver, his reaction is, meh, sorry, there’s nothing we can do here.

    It’s not like the case of Neftaly Ramirez is unprecedented. There was Noah Goldstein, the pedestrian killed by a garbage hauler near Columbus Circle, and, Mathieu Lefevre, a bicyclist killed by a truck driver in Brooklyn. In all these cases, drivers left the scene. When the NYPD tracked them down, they said “I had no idea” and that was it.

    I think the sad reality is that Gonzalez isn’t really that concerned with justice. He’s concerned with votes. He knows, for example, that illegal immigration is today’s cause celebre in liberal NYC. Traffic violence may be a big deal on Streetsblog. But it’s not a cause celebre, and certainly won’t help him get re-elected.

  • Barry Grant

    Black SUV’s = illegal u-turns. Almost every time.

  • AnoNYC

    Would toss those in with TLC plated. I guess I should have opted for using the word “for hires.”

  • joyauto

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cfd95762a6a6bbba1dcaf47618ff6c3c9ec94c2fc5dcbf1c4b356b78c76f08b3.jpg

    When will people finally realize that killing with a motor vehicle is legal? Crashes are good from the State’s viewpoint because they generate a lot of business, which in turn provides tax revenue for the State. So why would they want drivers to drive safely and kill the crash industry and dry up all that revenue? They don’t!!
    Read my book: “What You Don’t Know About Driving Can Get You Killed” available on Amazon.com

  • gneiss

    That the mayor of NYC continues to push for confiscating e-bikes from hard working immigrants that have killed NO ONE and yet not engage in any meaningful regulation, in fact dare say protects, an industry that regularly kills people is repugnant. This veritably reeks of corruption at all levels of government.

  • Cristina Carnicelli Furlong

    White SUV’s are often noted in hit and run’s too. I second Access-A-Ride.
    It’s terribly sad, and I’m glad Brad’s keeping the pressure on with the FOIA. Tell me, in the correction above, did Action Carting call the office and say, no, we killed 5 people, not 7?

  • AMH

    YES, just this morning a black SUV stopped right in a crowded crosswalk and the passenger just threw open the door, smacking right into several people with it. Not the most dangerous behavior I’ve seen at all, but very typical assholery.

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