NYPD Does Nothing After Driver Leaves Trail of Destruction on Nostrand Avenue, Injuring 1

Nothing to see here. Photos: Shabazz Stuart
Nothing to see here. Photos: Shabazz Stuart

A motorist careened down Nostrand Avenue in Crown Heights this morning, slamming into vehicles and injuring at least one person. The mayhem was witnessed by dozens of people, but NYPD declined to hold the driver accountable in any way.

Shabazz Stuart took these photos of the aftermath of the crash, which happened on Nostrand between Pacific and Dean streets, in the 77th Precinct, at a little after 8 a.m.

“He was clearly speeding,” Stuart told Streetsblog. “I saw the car go by, and he was swerving around other vehicles.”

Stuart said the driver, a man in a passenger car, swerved to avoid someone crossing the street, then struck several other vehicles and a bus. One victim — who Stuart believes was the driver of the livery cab in the above photo — was transported to Kings County Hospital, according to FDNY. His condition was unknown as of late this morning.

The driver initially left the area, then came back, Stuart said. Witnesses remained on the scene to talk to police, but cops told them there was nothing they could do.

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“The police showed up, and we said, ‘This is the person who was speeding. He should be arrested or get a summons,'” said Stuart. “And they told us, ‘We didn’t see it, so unfortunately, we can’t even give him a ticket, because we can’t verify that he was speeding.’ Which struck us as absurd, because you can look at the car. You can talk to the folks that were there. There are numerous video cameras in the stores on the street front.”

So while police will, say, apply criminal reckless driving statutes to delivery workers on electric bikes, the public is supposed to believe NYPD is helpless to penalize a motorist who leaves a trail of destruction on a neighborhood street packed with people, injuring a bystander and putting others at mortal risk.

In recent years, two laws — Hayley and Diego’s Law and the Right of Way Law — gave rank-and-file police explicit authority to issue summonses or criminal charges to motorists based on crash evidence other than firsthand officer testimony. Since the injured victim was apparently not walking or biking, those laws would not apply in this case. But they were adopted because of NYPD’s longstanding refusal to charge drivers who cause harm unless officers see it happen (or the victim suffers life-threatening injuries, which triggers the involvement of the Collision Investigation Squad).

Stuart said the crash could have been a lot worse. “The only reason that car didn’t go into the storefront was because that taxi cab was parked there. That car would have ran right onto the sidewalk and mowed down numerous people.”

The NYPD public information office had no details on this collision.

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  • Joe R.

    Just by the damage to the car the driver was clearly speeding. As for the police not being able to verify he was speeding, this is exactly why cars should record variables like speed, brake/accelerator position, steering wheel position, etc. and store that data permanently. Modern solid state drives easily have enough capacity to store telemetry data for the life of the vehicle. That data should be accessible to law enforcement whenever the vehicle is involved in an incident. Such data could exonerate drivers as often as not, so there should be no objections to storing it.

  • crazytrainmatt

    If you witnessed the crash, you can file a 311 complaint to the TLC so the driver at least gets a couple hundred dollar fine and some points.

  • Brad Aaron

    The TLC driver was the injured victim.

  • Why isn’t the statement of a witness enough? The cops arrest people all the time based solely on statements made by complaining witnesses.

  • Andrew

    We didn’t see it, so unfortunately, we can’t even give him a ticket, because we can’t verify that he was speeding.

    Imagine if the police used that same logic in any other domain.

  • William Lawson

    The NYPD is 100% aware that they could get a conviction for reckless driving based on the evidence being thrown at them here. They’re also aware that the charge carries possible jail time, even for a first offense. They spin this BS about not being able to make arrests because as a department they have an unwritten policy of ignoring as much vehicular crime as possible. I honestly believe the NYPD knows that it’s incapable of policing the roads (what with so many young black guys to harass and whatnot) and that’s why it colludes with the DA’s to maintain this absolute sham of a lie in which their “hands are tied” when it comes to prosecuting psycho drivers like this.

  • Ugh81

    Solid police work piggles.

  • Good points overall. But the NYPD certainly could police the roads if they wanted to — or, more important, if we had a functioning civilian government willing to use the power that the law gives it to impose policy decisions on the police.

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Nostrand Avenue at Quentin Road. Image: Google Maps

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A livery cab driver was arrested after severely injuring a senior on Nostrand Avenue this morning, a few blocks from where a woman was fatally struck by motorists while crossing Nostrand last month. Nostrand is one of Brooklyn's most dangerous streets for walking, according to the borough’s DOT pedestrian safety action plan.