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Vision Zero Blind Spot: ‘Georgia’ Driver Who Killed Man on Flatbush is a Serial Speeder

Luis Garcia

The South will guise again.

The driver who hit and killed a Brooklyn man a month ago on Flatbush Avenue is likely a scam artist who registered his 2002 Dodge Stratus in the lax state of Georgia even though he is clearly a New York driver with a record that includes four serious moving violations and two parking tickets — all in Brooklyn — over the last five years.

But does the NYPD even care?

One of those moving violations was a speeding ticket issued by a camera at Flatlands Avenue at E. 58th Street less than one month before the driver, Richard Holland, killed pedestrian Luis Garcia in the early morning Sept. 24 crash.

Police did not charge Holland and instead blamed Garcia, saying he "attempted to cross Flatbush Avenue, at the Fourth Avenue intersection, from east to west against the pedestrian signal," according to the official preliminary statement by the NYPD. That assertion — according to the actual crash report obtained by Streetsblog — was based on the testimony of just one witness: Richard Holland, who carries a Georgia driver's license and whose car is registered in the Peachtree State, but whose driving record indicates he is a Brooklynite. (A spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Driver Services said Georgia driver's licenses have to be renewed every eight years, but can be done online in most cases. Registering a car in a low-insurance-rate state is a widely known scam in New York.)

The death of Luis Garcia is a clear reminder that initial NYPD investigations — and their subsequent reporting to the media — can be sloppy and insufficient.

If police officer Qamar Zaman of the 84th Precinct and his supervisor, Sgt. John Tripodi, had done even a cursory check of Holland's record, they would have seen the following infractions — all in Brooklyn — being racked up by a guy who claims to live in Covington, Ga.:

    • A parking ticket in Flatbush on July 3, 2014.
    • A parking ticket in Flatbush on March 6, 2015.
    • A speeding ticket in Starrett City on April 20, 2017
    • A speeding ticket in Prospect Heights on March 26, 2019.
    • A red light ticket in Brownsville on July 15, 2019.
    • A speeding ticket in Canarsie on Aug. 29, 2019.

(Reminder: New York speed cameras only issue tickets when a driver exceeds the speed limit by at least 11 miles per hour.)

Richard Holland's car is registered in Georgia, but he is clearly a Brooklynite. Photo: Howsmydrivingny
Richard Holland's car is registered in Georgia, but he is clearly a Brooklynite. Photo: Howsmydrivingny
Richard Holland's car is registered in Georgia, but he is clearly a Brooklynite. Photo: Howsmydrivingny

The last two speeding tickets were just weeks before Holland slammed into Garcia, killing him. The police report does not even raise the possibility that Holland was speeding. (A photo of the smashed-up car, published by the NY Post, suggests he was).

Obviously, Holland's past record as a speeder does not mean he was exceeding the 25 miles per hour limit before he hit Garcia just after midnight on Sept. 24. But it is not clear if the responding officers even took Holland's recidivism into account when questioning him about the crash. And they certainly did not indicate on the official police report such important information as how far Garcia's body traveled from the point of impact, or whether Holland was distracted by music or his phone.

I've asked the NYPD for more information about the crash, specifically:

    • Did the NYPD run the plates on Holland’s car at the time of the initial response to the crash?
    • Two of the speeding tickets and the red light ticket were all issued this year. One of the speeding tickets was issued on Aug. 29, 2019, less than a month before Holland killed the pedestrian. Should an officer seeing that information be more suspicious about the version of events being related to him or her by the driver?
    • The police report for this incident — MV-2019-084-002172 (which I have seen) — does not indicate that any witnesses besides the driver were interviewed in the initial investigation. Is that true?
    • Is the investigation ongoing or has some conclusion been reached?

I won't hold my breath for a response — but I will tighten my lungs every time I walk or bike on a Brooklyn street, where I will likely be sharing space with the reckless "Georgia" resident Richard Holland.

Gersh Kuntzman is editor of Streetsblog. When he gets really angry, he writes the “Cycle of Rage” column. Prior posts are archived here.

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