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NYPD Rejects Request for Records on Hit-and-Run Killing of Neftaly Ramirez

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

NYPD has denied a freedom of information request for files about the investigation into the hit-and-run killing of Neftaly Ramirez in Greenpoint last summer. Meanwhile, the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez has not responded to a separate request for information on Ramirez's case, which the DA closed without bringing criminal charges.

Shortly after midnight on July 22, the driver of an Action Carting garbage truck struck and killed Ramirez as he biked on Franklin Street. The driver did not stop at the site of the crash, by Noble Street, and completed the route.

Action Carting holds more than $100 million in active city contracts. Despite the company's history of fatal crashes, City Hall has not withdrawn any of its business.

After the crash in July, NYPD shielded the name of the driver, identified in a civil suit as Jose Nunez, 63. Before investigators discovered who was driving the truck, NYPD offered a preemptive defense by telling the media he potentially “didn’t realize” he ran over Ramirez and his bicycle, which was the same reason police eventually gave for declining to file charges.

Nunez was ticketed for driving a garbage truck without the proper license, according to the Brooklyn Paper, but NYPD and Gonzalez did not charge him for leaving the scene or for the act of taking Ramirez's life.

NYPD has not clarified whether Nunez was turning at the time of the crash, violating Ramirez's legal right of way. Gonzalez spokesperson Oren Yaniv did not answer when I asked him who had the right of way.

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

Michael Kremins, the Ramirez family’s attorney, told the Brooklyn Paper that NYPD’s interview with Nunez was limited to a phone call 17 hours after the crash, and said police did not test Nunez for drugs or alcohol.

Kremins said video showed a second Action Carting worker riding on the back of the truck, on the same side where the wheels ran over Ramirez, one block before the collision. Video taken “about a minute” after impact showed the second crew member inside the truck's cab, Kremins said.

Gonzalez announced that he had dropped the case in January, six months after the crash.

Streetsblog filed a FOIL for the NYPD collision report and other relevant documents on February 13. On March 6, NYPD denied the request on the grounds that granting it “would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

NYPD normally says the investigation is ongoing or cites the privacy of the parties involved when rejecting requests for crash reports. In this case, both NYPD and the DA have declared the case closed. If privacy is a legitimate concern, NYPD could redact the documents accordingly. Instead, the department denied the request outright, in keeping with its practice of concealing information on fatal traffic crashes.

We will appeal NYPD's decision. In the meantime, we’re still waiting for an answer to the FOIL we sent to Gonzalez’s office on the same day as the NYPD request.

As long as police and prosecutors refuse to disclose information about the death of Neftaly Ramirez, the public has no way to know how the investigation was conducted or why they decided not to seek justice for Ramirez and his family.

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