UPDATE: Driver Arrested For Killing Cyclist on Coney Island Avenue

This is a split second before Jose Alzorriz (right) was killed just waiting for a light.
This is a split second before Jose Alzorriz (right) was killed just waiting for a light.

The driver whose caught-on-camera recklessness led to the death of cyclist Jose Alzorriz on Coney Island Avenue earlier this month has been hit with a slew of charges by the NYPD.

Mirza Baig, 18, is one of the few killer drivers who is facing prison, thanks to charges that include manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, vehicular assault and reckless endangerment stemming from the Aug. 11 crash when Baig flew down the speedway boulevard and ran a red light at Avenue L, T-boning a minivan that slammed into Alzorriz as the cyclist waited at a red light, cops said.

Under pressure from local politicians and activists — including Mayor de Blasio — the NYPD threw the full summons book at Baig, adding charges for assault, reckless driving, disobeying a traffic device, and speeding. Cops even added in two charges rarely seen in crashes: criminal solicitation and criminal facilitation — an allegation that suggests Baig, of Queens, asked someone to lie on his behalf.

The NYPD announced the charges on Wednesday morning — and Baig was arraigned hours later. He made bail with $10,000 cash, and outside Brooklyn Supreme Court, Baig’s lawyer, Jeffrey Lewisohn, defended his client, saying, “It’s tragic that someone died, but it was an accident.” He walked away without taking any more questions.

Tragic or not, the bevy of counts against Baig suggest that it was no “accident.” And the litany of charges only raise new questions about how and when killer drivers are even held accountable in this city.

Officials with several of the city’s District Attorneys have often — and publicly on Twitter — said that it is very difficult to bring charges against drivers who merely run a red light. That position is often defended by the mainstream media, which is susceptible to the view that deaths stemming from reckless driving are merely “accidents.” Law enforcement officials have claimed that there is a “rule of two” in effect — meaning that cases can’t be brought against a killer driver unless there are multiple offenses beyond merely running a red light.

But lawyers who defend victims have consistently pushed back on that notion — and, indeed, most of the charges against Baig could have been brought simply based on Baig’s decision to run the red light, which triggered everything that came after.

“It is right and just that Mirza Baig, who blew through a red light at a high speed, causing the death of Jose Alzorriz, should be charged with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, vehicular assault and reckless endangerment,” said State Senator Andrew Gounardes. “Yet this should not be an exception to the rule. Our city’s unofficial policy for too long has been that no matter how reckless, dangerous and harmful a person’s driving, there will never be consequences and oftentimes the driver will remain on the road. That needs to change.”

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said: “I am grateful the police have made an arrest in connection to the death of cyclist Jose Alzorriz. We need justice and accountability for bad drivers in our city, especially as we watch with horror as both cyclist and pedestrian death tolls continue to rise this year.”

Updated to include a quote from Baig’s lawyer.

— With Dave Colon

  • Owen Iverson

    Wow. Glad to see some accountability happening. Now we just need to keep on pushing for it.

  • John

    I would be curious to know the race of this driver compared to other drivers who have killed cyclists and pedestrians this year but not been charged. It’s not unreasonable to wonder if the driver’s was a factor in the charges.

  • AMH

    Cops even added in two charges rarely seen in crashes: criminal solicitation and criminal facilitation — an allegation that suggests Baig, of Queens, asked someone to lie on his behalf.

    What does all that mean?

  • Joe R.

    Well, seriously, how could they NOT file charges? This was all caught on video and has to be the most disturbing footage I’ve ever seen of someone’s last moments. Hopefully they get a jury who can’t easily be swayed by the defense. That said, my guess is they’ll take some sort of plea bargain rather than risk a jury trial. And hopefully part of that plea deal will be that the defendant agrees to never drive a motor vehicle for the remainder of their natural life.

  • djx

    Race definitely plays a role in general.

    That said, the actual video here was probably the deciding factor. it’s just too blatant.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Is that an NJ plate on Baig’s car?

    An 18-year old a-hole, whose life will be wrecked. The cyclist died, not sure of the damage to the lives of the pedestrian and the other driver.

    We know, however, that the auto industry now has the technology to make what Baig did impossible.

    I wonder how hard “car control” is relative to “gun control?”

  • Isaac B

    IDGAF about his life being wrecked. He (allegedly) made his choices.

  • Isaac B

    Attempted coverup. Possible passenger in the car or other witness asked to lie. Attempt at alibi. Recall that earlier in the week, the suspect had a different first name.

  • Isaac B

    Interesting question. Baig appears to be an Indian/Pakistani surname.

  • GuestBx

    It’s criminal that the federal government didn’t require cars to have automatic braking systems years ago (the technology has long been available). Could have reduced the speed of the collision substantially.

    It’ll be over a decade at least before most cars are equipped.

    And the requirement isn’t even mandatory until late 2022 for new models!

  • GuestBx

  • Larry Littlefield

    They could limit speed, limit turning speed, and stop at reds, too.

  • Joe R.

    His life was probably wrecked already. By the way he was driving I’d say he was on drugs or drunk. But either way, I agree. Someone does something like this, I don’t care if they’re rotting in a cell the rest of their days. At least they’ll have those days. Jose Alzorriz won’t.

  • Joe R.

    The auto companies probably had to be dragged kicking and screaming just to get them to go along with having automatic braking systems by 2022. They could do a lot more, as Larry suggested below, but they won’t. Automatic overrides won’t allow drivers to do a lot of the illegal stuff you see in car commercials. Once cars can only be driven legally, there will be a lot fewer auto sales.

  • Maggie

    Agree 100%. There really should be the same attitude and approach to the driver who blew a red light at full speed last month and killed a UWS doorman as to the driver who blew a red light at full speed this month and killed a man on Coney Island Avenue. Both victims were equally deserving of safety in our city. I already see a lot of shading in the Trans Alt statement on the cyclist who died. No doubt it’s unintentional on their part, but it’s there.

  • Vooch

    “…criminally negligent homicide…”

    finally

  • DoctorMemory

    Huh. I guess he wasn’t related to any cops after all.

  • Feed The Dogs

    Thumbs up, Andrew Gounardes!

    Note: he replaced a state senator who ran over an elderly woman on Brooklyn’s 3rd Ave in 2005 and racked up 14 speeding tickets IN SCHOOL ZONES in three years.

    https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2018/06/25/marty-goldens-cadillac-has-been-caught-speeding-in-school-zones-three-times-in-2018-alone/

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