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Medical Examiner: NYPD is ‘Incorrect’ That Cyclist Killed Pedestrian

4:11 PM EDT on August 8, 2019

Stop the presses: The city medical examiner has not ruled that the hit-and-run cyclist being sought by NYPD for allegedly killing a Manhattan pedestrian last week actually caused the victim's death.

Police had said that 60-year-old Michael Collopy was struck by the cyclist as he stood in the protected bike lane at Sixth Avenue and 23rd Street on Wednesday, July 31 — and the NYPD definitively stated that the cyclist caused the head trauma that led to Collopy's death on Aug. 5.

"The medical examiner determined the cause of death was a result of the pedestrian being struck by the bicyclist," the NYPD said. That statement was not true.

A spokesperson for the medical examiner told Streetsblog on Thursday that police were “incorrect.”

“The ME has not yet made a determination (decided cause/manner of death) in this case,” Aja Worthy-Davis said. She added that she would begin reaching out to local reporters who had also published the NYPD's version of the events.

Indeed, late on Thursday afternoon, Worthy-Davis sent the following email to multiple media outlets.

It has come to my attention that recent media coverage that covered the death of Michael Collopy stated that the case Medical Examiner (forensic pathologist) made a determination regarding the cause and manner of death.

For clarity, the cause and manner of death in this case is pending determination.

We’d ask that you make this correction in your coverage.

NYPD spokesman Sgt. Vincent Marchese could not explain the discrepancy on Thursday and declined to respond to Worthy-Davis's direct challenge to the NYPD's version of events.

“According to the report, this is what we have,” Marchese said. The NYPD had also said Collopy was a Harlem resident, but neighbors at the building where he supposedly lived did not know him and the building super told Streetsblog that no building resident had recently died. Other media outlets said Collopy lived in Chelsea, near where he was allegedly hit.

Very little is known about the last moments in the life of Michael Collopy. Police claim that the northbound cyclist hit him as Collopy stood in the protected bike lane — and they claim that the cyclist fled the scene. The NYPD said that officers showed up at the scene and "encountered a 60-year-old male at the location with head trauma." It is unclear if Collopy had been knocked down by the cyclist or fell trying to avoid the bike rider, or merely fell on his own.

In any event, he was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he died on Aug. 5.

NYPD did not respond to specifics about the crash on Thursday.

The death of Michael Collopy — whatever the circumstances — is a cause for alarm for all road users, a point underscored by Transportation Alternatives.

"All New Yorkers deserve safe streets and the ability to navigate our city without fear of injury and death," said the group's co-deputy director Marco Conner. "Every person killed on New York’s streets is one too many, regardless of the type of vehicle by which they’re struck. Michael Collopy’s death is a tragedy and could have been prevented. Our hearts go out to his family. New Yorkers who bike have a duty to always yield to pedestrians, the most vulnerable users of our streets."

Conner also underscored how rarely a pedestrian is killed by a cyclist, though it is unclear if that was even the case in this death.

"Since January of 2014, five pedestrians have been killed by cyclists in New York City, while more than 700 pedestrians have been killed by drivers of cars and trucks,” Conner said.

— with Dave Colon and Eve Kessler

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