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NYPD Shamed into Doing Bare Minimum After Scofflaw Driver Tries to Run Over Cyclist

Seconds before the Mercedes driver cuts off the cyclist on Queens Boulevard. Photo: Jessica Thund3r_H4wk via Twitter

Police brass ordered the 112th Precinct to write a ticket to a reckless driver who hit a cyclist on Queens Boulevard — but only after Streetsblog and other outlets alerted headquarters to a viral video that suggested the responding officers had behaved poorly.

The latest example of police officers' inability to understand basic law — and their reluctance to take a cyclist's side against a driver — began on Friday, when Twitter user Jessica @Thund3r_H4wk posted a video that showed her husband cycling on the former Boulevard of Death, where he was cut off and then hit by the driver of a Mercedes sedan who had ignored a stop sign.

What happened next was even more enraging: The man, John Farrell, alleges that officers from the 112th Precinct refused to look at his videotape of the incident and declined to issue a failure to yield ticket because they had not witnessed the violation first-hand — which is not required under the law.

"Police officers should be trained to know their options for holding drivers accountable, and drivers who are recklessly endangering cyclists and pedestrians MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE," Jessica said.

In this case, the driver was, according to NYPD officials at 1 Police Plaza. After the video went viral — and Streetsblog and Patch asked about it — the NYPD issued the following statement.

The NYPD is committed to Vision Zero and continues to promote the safety of drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists through raising awareness of rules and regulations, sharing safety tips, as well as enforcement initiative.

On Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, at approximately 1000 hours, officers from the 112 Precinct responded to a collision between a cyclist and a motor vehicle at 68th Road and Queens Boulevard. There were no injuries and both parties refused medical attention. Upon review of the video, the Commanding Officer of the 112 Precinct directed his officers to prepare a summons for failure to yield.

The NYPD declined to answer any follow-up questions, including providing the identity of the driver, which is standard in cases when charges are issued. Jessica said she is also waiting for confirmation from the precinct.

Cyclists say it should never require so much persistence to get charges in failure-to-yield cases. In this case, NYPD ended up acting because the video is incontrovertible: Farrell was traveling westbound in the protected bike lane on Queens Boulevard between 68th Drive and 68th Road (yes, Queens is confusing). Officers should know the law: Cyclists have the right of way on Queens Boulevard. Drivers who want to enter the main portion of Queens Boulevard from the service road see the word "STOP" on the roadway and on the familiar octagonal red sign when they want to cross the bike path.

In this case, the driver ran the stop sign, cutting off Farrell, who then can be heard on the video questioning the driver's skill behind the wheel. At that point, the driver accelerates and strikes the cyclist with a sickening crash. (Farrell did not lose his footing or else he might have been severely injured.)

Police arrived, but issued no summonses — nor did they apparently run the plates on the driver, who, it turns out, had six serious moving violations on her record.

The incident is reminiscent of FDNY firefighter Brauley de la Rosa, who used his Dodge Charger as a weapon against a cyclist on West Street in Manhattan earlier this year. In that instance, cops also allowed de la Rosa to go — only to arrest de la Rosa after the fact when a video of that incident also went viral. De la Rosa, it turned out, also had numerous moving violations on his record — which offers also did not look at when they arrived at the scene.

De la Rosa ultimately was charged with reckless endangerment, a charge that could also have been leveled in this case.

In the end, Jessica told Streetsblog that she was pleased the NYPD has said it will issue summonses — but she was appalled that it took a viral video for cops to do the right thing.

"The fact that the video had to get 20k views on Twitter before they thought it was worth looking at is ridiculous," she told Streetsblog. "GoPro footage ... was offered to the officers that arrived on the scene for review. And that is why I wanted to call attention to it. One look at the footage makes it very clear what happened, there's no reason this had to escalate."

But, unfortunately, police incompetence at minor crashes is fairly common. On the same day that Jessica's video went viral, another Queens cyclist posted a thread that indicated how badly she was treated by officers who responded when she was hit by a driver who failed to yield in Jackson Heights. The thread ends with her being lectured by a cop who claims that cyclists are the real menace:

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