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

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

    Such a tragedy… Is there any evidence that the driver was speeding or that Nakagawa didn’t go through the red light? This would be valuable to his family and to the police to ensure justice is done.

  • Jo Jo

    I feel very sad for all the cyclists that have been hurt or killed by accidents involving automobiles. A good solution would be to have designated streets that are just for cyclists. In other words no cars allowed on the designated streets. This might help solve this growing problem.

  • JarekFA

    Cars just drive way too fast in dense residential neighborhoods. Maybe he wasn’t speeding but holy shit — this is an epidemic and our mayor doesn’t give a fuck. God I hate our mayor. Every time he goes on about how we need to aggressively act on Climate Change he makes me want to I can’t say as I don’t want to be accused of making threats against a politician, again.

  • Mike Brandt

    Judging by the photograph, he was riding a fixed gear bike with no brakes. So either he have no way of stopping in time or he has no intention of stopping.

  • Mike Brandt

    He was riding a fixed gear bike with no brakes.

  • Joe R.

    I’ll admit there are times I think about swooping in on the Mayor’s daily motorcade to the gym on a huge dragon, then screaming “dracarys” (obviously this can’t be taken as a real threat as dragons don’t exist). However, I’ll settle for him just resigning ASAP so we no longer have to deal with his incompetence or brain-dead ideas.

  • Dan Sullivan

    Once you get past the tribalism, you are left with the fact that, if the cyclist did indeed run a red light, then the cyclist is indeed at fault. Blowing through a red light is a much more egregious violation, meaning one that is far more likely to cause an accident, than driving over the speed limit – unless the motorist was going some truly outrageous speed.

  • edo12345

    Sorry to say this I have seen bike riders not stopping at the red light and biking the wrong way. I was with relatives in a car waiting for the light to turn green. We had the green light and a bunch of bike riders crossed in front of us did not stop and just kept going. luckily my uncle saw them and stopped not to hit them. Also if I was a bike rider I will never ride next to a truck or bus since they have limited visibility in seeing a rider. If I see a bus or truck I stay clear. It’s obvious the city officials were not really prepared for all these different scenarios when they decided to add citibikes and bike lanes.