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Police Misconduct

Family of Man Killed by Recklessly Driving Cop Sues City

The city must compensate the family of a Brooklyn man who was killed by a recklessly driving cop on Eastern Parkway last year, a new suit charges.

12:02 AM EDT on July 10, 2023

Officers Evan Siegel (left) was with Officer Orkhan Mamedov when Mamedov killed Ronald Anthony Smith with a police van on Eastern Parkway. Now the city is being sued. Photos: NYPD body cameras

The city must compensate the family of a Brooklyn man who was killed by a recklessly driving cop on Eastern Parkway last year, charges a new lawsuit that is seeking punitive damages as well.

Ronald Smith

In a wrongful death suit filed on Thursday in Brooklyn Supreme Court, the family of Ronald Smith charges that the city should be held liable because "Officers Orkhan Mamedov and Evan Siegel killed Smith by driving recklessly at nearly double the posted speed limit, at night, running red lights, in the wrong lane, with visibility limited by rain ... without justification or cause."

It's the latest bid by the grieving family to get some semblance of justice following the death of Smith, who was panhandling in the median of Eastern Parkway on that rainy night of April 7, 2022 when Mamedov slammed the police van into him. Mamedov and his partner had been transporting prisoners at high speed in the wrong lane of traffic even though there was no emergency; they had allegedly been rushing because they wanted to get to central booking before a shift change that would have extended their night.

Before this suit, the Smith family had unsuccessfully sought the arrest and firing of the officers, sought the support of the Civilian Complaint Review Board (which is pending), and hoped that the state Attorney General (who looks at all police-involved deaths) would hold the officers accountable.

The process has been excruciating, said the family lawyer.

"The City of New York, in every instance where an employee kills somebody, puts the family and loved ones though a rigorous and unncessarily brutal process," said lawyer David Rankin of the firm Beldock Levine and Hoffman. "It's cruel and it's unnecessary. They could, like other cities, pick up the phone and say, 'We know what happened here' and work something out. but the city doesn't do that. We have not gotten so much as a condolence call. And the fact is, they should not have been driving like that. If these cops had been doing the right thing, Mr. Smith would be alive."

There is little doubt of that. Even in clearing the officers of criminal charges in May, Attorney General Letitia James concluded that there was no reason for Mamedov to be speeding during the prisoner transfer, which is simply not an emergency. She called on the NYPD to change its procedures so that such reckless does not happen again (the NYPD declined to comment, but said Mamedov's case is still being looked at by the Force Investigation Division.)

A city Law Department spokesman declined to discuss the case beyond a promise to "review" it. City court paperwork will be submitted in the next month or so.

Those papers will likely complicate the family's grieving process. In another recent wrongful death case filed by the parents of a 3-month-old girl who was killed by a reckless driver, lawyers for the city blamed the family for not protecting the tot from the danger of being out on the sidewalk at the time of the crash.

"It's very painful, but I anticipate the city will make a similar argument in this case," Rankin said. "The city will fight this tooth and nail."

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