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NYPD is Quick to Blame Latest Cyclist Victim For His Own Death

12:06 PM EDT on May 16, 2019

Police photograph the victim’s bike after he was hit by a driver on May 11 in Crown Heights. Photo: Marco Conner.

A cyclist who was hit on Saturday in Crown Heights has died of his injuries — the 10th cyclist to be killed this year — and police blamed him for his own death.

Twenty-two-year-old Kenichi Nakagawa died Tuesday, cops said.

Nakagawa had been riding southbound on Brooklyn Avenue at around 5:30 p.m. when he was hit at the intersection of Dean Street by a 66-year-old driver who had been driving eastbound. The initial police report said the driver had the green light — but the car hit Nakagawa so hard that a neighbor suggested the driver was speeding.

"The car hit the cyclist and it made an awful, loud sound, and the cyclist flew across the street," according to an earwitness, quoted by journalist Rebecca Baird-Remba.

The driver remained at the scene and paramedics rushed Nakagawa to Kings County Hospital, where he died a few days later.

Police say the investigation is ongoing, but are already blaming Nakagawa — who went by Ken, according to a fundraising page set up while he was still in a coma — saying in a press release that the cyclist “disobeyed the steady red traffic light.” It's a tactic often used by cops to absolve drivers of their own recklessness.

“[It's] still being reviewed,” said NYPD spokesman Det. Martin Brown. “This is a preliminary investigation, so we’re waiting for an in-depth report, [but] this is what we received." Brown declined to say whether the driver, whose name has not been released, was the sole witness, a common problem with initial reports from crash sites. He also did not say whether the driver has been speeding, the most common road infraction.

Nakagawa’s death came just hours after 16-year old cyclist Yisroel Schwartz was killed by a driver in Borough Park. So far in 2019, 10 cyclists have been killed on New York City streets, matching the total for all of last year.

Transportation Alternatives said the deaths indicate that Mayor de Blasio's Vision Zero initiative "is in a state of emergency.”

“It is abundantly clear that the scattershot, one-off approach to Vision Zero has reached a point of diminishing returns, and New Yorkers are dying as a result,” the group said in a statement. "We need a new, systemic approach to Vision Zero that makes safety a matter of course, not subject to the whims of parochial community board politics."

NYPD's "TrafficStat" shows that fatalities on New York roads are up more than 20 percent versus the same period last year.
NYPD's "TrafficStat" shows that fatalities on New York roads are up more than 20 percent versus the same period last year.

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