Cops arrested the city firefighter who days ago tried to mow down a cyclist with his car, despite initially letting the recidivist reckless driver leave the West Side Highway scene without initial charges.
Police say 27-year-old Brauley De La Rosa was driving with a suspended license on Thursday when he started shoving a biker with the grill of his Dodge muscle car near 24th Street — a disturbing incident that was caught on video and published by Liz Gonzales of Barstool Sports. What was not caught on video was what started the exchange. Gonzales has said De La Rosa ran a red light and almost hit her and her dog before taking on the cyclist, who refused to back down, and remained on the scene because De La Rosa initially took his cellphone.
New York's Finest arrived in time before the driver and the cyclist had left. They initially let the off-duty firefighter drive away in his maroon Dodge Charger — cars marketed specifically as tough machines and as “Unmistakable Muscle” — but then launched an investigation Friday after the viral video had been aired by multiple media outlets.
Police charged De La Rosa with reckless endangerment and driving without a valid license — his license was suspended at the time of the incident — after he turned himself in at the 10th Precinct on Monday, according to the New York Post. Cops would not provide more details about De La Rosa’s suspended license, and the state Department of Motor Vehicles did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It’s unclear why police did not so much as run De La Rosa’s plates or ask for his driver’s license at the scene. (De La Rosa, who lives in Yonkers, told Gothamist that he thought the outrage over the incident was "totally blown out of proportion.")
"Pretty incredible stuff that the police responded to this attempt to kill a guy with a car and none of them figured that they'd run the license of the driver who tried to kill a guy with a car," said cyclist (and, full disclosure, Streetsblog contributor) Dave Colon.
If they had, they would have discovered he should not have even been on the road for another reason besides having a suspended license — De La Rosa’s car has been nabbed 11 times for speeding in a school zone — enough that the vehicle could have been impounded by cops under the provisions of a pending bill by Brooklyn Council Member Brad Lander.
The bill is opposed by Mayor de Blasio, but Lander said Monday that it's necessary for keeping maniac drivers, like De La Rosa, off the road.
"We need stronger tools to combat sociopathic driving," the pol wrote on Twitter after news of De La Rosa's arrest.
De La Rosa’s camera violations only came to light after another video was posted to Twitter Monday. The plate was then run through the Howsmydrivingny database of camera violations.
That video also shows police pull up to the scene and then just seconds later let the off-duty firefighter drive away, despite police continuing to tell reporters that “both parties left the scene prior to police arrival."
How police handled the incident is in stark contrast to the NYPD's ongoing crack-down against cyclists — cops seem more inclined to ticket and arrest innocent bikers for not having bells or helmets (which are not required by law), or for riding illegal e-bikes, than they do aggressive drivers in 3,000-pound vehicles who actually try to hurt other people.
"That video is a clear-cut example of the privilege given to cars in the city of New York. [But] cyclists without bells, cyclists without bells, delivery people making deliveries, those seem to be the criminal charges they want to pursue," said Brooklyn Council Member Antonio Reynoso during a press conference held before De La Rosa’s arrest. "But when a [driver] is pushing a person, a cyclist, over with their vehicle, they're using that vehicle as a dangerous weapon and we need to talk about what police should be doing in those types of cases."
Reynoso was joined by Manhattan Council Member Helen Rosenthal, members of Transportation Alternatives, and safe-streets advocates on the steps of City Hall Monday to demand the driver be held accountable before police had made the arrest.
The pols and advocates also called on the city to install right-of-way street cameras as part of a pilot program so that motorists cannot continue to get away with reckless driving.
"Not only did (De La Rosa) attempt to run a cyclist down, but he also drove through a cross walk against a red light. This behavior is unacceptable, and is excellent justification for the City to pilot the installation of right-of-way street cameras," said Rosenthal. "Pedestrians and cyclists should not be at the mercy of drivers who have the ability to injure or even kill them. It’s time for New Yorkers to regain control of our streets."
The FDNY did not respond to a request for comment following De La Rosa's arrest but a spokesman said earlier that day that arrested FDNY members typically receive 28-day suspensions.