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One Cyclist’s Story: How A Placard-Wielding Driver Got Away With a Crime

12:01 AM EDT on April 22, 2019

The car’s license plate is partially obscured. Photo: Shayana Kadidal

A cop in a $90,000 Range Rover hit a Manhattan cyclist the other day and fled the scene, leaving the biker to be intimidated by responding officers — a story that offers a snapshot into why many victims of road violence don't even bother to call police and why so many New Yorkers are so enraged by placard corruption, the cyclist said.

Manhattan attorney Shane Kadidal was cycling on W. 110th Street towards Central Park on April 14 when an unidentified male driver in the massive Range Rover made an illegal u-turn — crossing five lanes of traffic and a double yellow — at the corner of Manhattan Avenue and 110th Street at about 2 p.m., he said.

Kadidal was pulling up to a red light when he instead rolled into the 5,000-pound vehicle as it was making the illegal turn, and then fell off his bike and onto the ground.

The motorist — after hopping out of his car to tell Kadidal that he hit his car — parked his vehicle across the street from Kadidal while they waited for police to show for about 10 minutes, but the motorist then quietly drove off before off the cops came, according to Kadidal.

“I look over my shoulder to where the driver was parked. He is fleeing the scene, driving the other direction with his hazard lights still on,” he wrote on social media, where he first told his story.

When police from the 26th Precinct finally showed up, they questioned why Kadidal would want to file a report against the driver if he was the one who hit the car.

“Let me get this straight. You want to file a report, because you hit a car,” an officer allegedly said to Kadidal. “Do you have evidence it was his fault?” 

But then one of the officers told Kadidal that the neighboring precinct would have to take the complaint because the crash was actually in the 24th Precinct, which contains the other side of the street. When cops from that stationhouse finally showed up, they told him they don’t usually press charges if only one person is there to say what happened — and especially if there's no driver, and no license plate. 

Kadidal managed to snatch a photo of the luxury car, which had a police placard in its front window, though it is unclear if it was a legitimate NYPD placard or one issued by another jurisdiction. The car also had New Jersey plates, but the last letter was partially blocked — a tactic frequently used by reckless motorists, especially police officers or police-friendly civilians, to avoid camera violations.

Photo: Shane Kadidal
The police placard visible in the front windshield window. Photo: Shane Kadidal
Photo: Shane Kadidal

Kadidal is physically fine — he suffered minor bumps and scrapes — but his frustrating and frightening experience is an example of what cyclists go through on a daily basis.

"Another byproduct of New York City car culture. Kadidal has cast a spotlight on what New Yorkers who ride bikes deal with all too often," said Joe Cutrufo, a spokesman for Transporation Alternatives. "It makes you wonder what exactly the NYPD's 'Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect' slogan is all about."

Kadidal ultimately filed a police report, but cops told him they wouldn't run the plate with one missing letter.

The incident left Kadidal shaken, partly because it led him to believe that placarded drivers can easily get away with crimes.

“The driver who hit me — and fled the scene — was a cop," Kadidal wrote on Twitter. "Being a cop explains why he thought he could pull a massively illegal u-turn across five lanes and a double yellow line thru a red light on a crowded Manhattan street and not get busted for it. Or flee the scene – a crime even for civilians – with impunity.”

The NYPD said the grainy picture of the placard in the car's front windshield window does not look like an official police placard.

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