EXCLUSIVE: New Video from Crash Shows Police Chase Led to Death of Delivery Cyclist Borkot Ullah

A split second before the fatal crash.
A split second before the fatal crash.

New video exclusively obtained by Streetsblog shows in greater detail that a police chase was clearly a contributing factor in the hit-and-run crash that killed delivery worker Borkot Ullah last week.

The NYPD has not commented since Friday, when it said it is still investigating the sequence of events before the driver of a black Subaru sped recklessly through a red light at E. Houston and Clinton streets on Thursday at around 9:45 p.m., fatally striking Ullah. But now two videos have come to light — both obtained by Streetsblog — that suggest that police were chasing the driver in one of the busiest nightlife areas of the city before the crash.

And Attorney General Letitia James is reviewing the case, which is common in police-involved shootings, but not in crashes. The AG’s involvement stems from state law that created an Office of Special Investigation within the AG’s office to “investigate and, if warranted, prosecute any alleged criminal offense or offenses committed by a person, whether or not formally on duty, who is a police officer … concerning any incident in which the death of a person, whether in custody or not.”

The latest video starts as Ullah and nearby car drivers slow down for the red light before he is slammed by the Subaru — which is followed within less than a second by a police cruiser with sirens blaring.

The NYPD declined to comment on James’s review and Streetsblog’s latest video, but did say that no one has been arrested yet. Two witnesses who saw the crash said the police chase was a contributing factor.

“It was really sad to see,” said one man, who declined to give his name because he has dealings with police officers. “And [Ullah] was 24! I always tell people to watch their backs because you never know.”

Borkot Ullah
Borkot Ullah

Ullah was a member of Desis Rising Up and Moving, a social justice organization of working class South Asians and Indo-Caribbeans. The organization posted about his death on Instagram and questioned the NYPD’s involvement, saying, “We currently don’t know why the NYPD was pursuing the speeding car.”

Meanwhile, grieving friends of Ullah have raised thousands of dollars to send his body back to his native Bangladesh.

The GoFundMe page, which has raised close to $25,000, described Borkot was an asylum seeker, who fled Bangladesh to escape “political repression and targeting.” His job as a delivery worker helped support his family both here and in Bangladesh, even through the “extreme financial hardship” that he experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Desis Rising Up and Moving, Ullah would frequently join ride for justice for the many exploited workers in the city.

The manner in which Ullah was killed again raises questions about whether police should conduct high-speed chases in dense urban areas. A 2017 study of the prior decade revealed that roughly one person a day is killed during a police chases. USA Today found in 2015 that at least 11,506 people had been killed in police pursuits since 1979. The organization Pursuit Safety found in 2016 that more than one-third of the deaths in pursuits were innocent bystanders.

The NYPD has in the past killed people in crashes and then covered it up. Last year, the Daily News reported that the NYPD did not say that officers were pursuing two suspects in a high-speed chase before the couple crashed their motorcycle and died. Just as in the death of Borkot Ullah, the truth only came out after video of the crash was uncovered by reporters.

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