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Lawyer for NYPD Driver Who Killed 7-Year-Old Blames City for His Client’s Alleged Negligence

The attorney pinned blame for the death on NYPD for failing to enforce parking rules — but did not explain how that should absolve his client of unsafe driving.

2:55 PM EST on December 21, 2023

Julianne Cuba|

The corner where Kamari Hughes was killed.

The same morning a group of parents, teachers, and students rallied at the Fort Greene intersection where a little boy was killed to demand that Mayor Adams reverse cuts to the city's crossing guard budget, the driver who hit and killed him two months ago appeared in court — silent, again, as her attorney defended her innocence. 

Stephanie Sharp, 54, pleaded not guilty last month to charges stemming from the fatal crash on Oct. 26, when she struck and killed 7-year-old Kamari Hughes at the corner of Myrtle and N. Portland avenues.

Witnesses at the scene told Streetsblog that Sharp appeared to be on her phone when she hit the little boy, but her attorney said he believes the evidence that investigators are still collecting will absolve her. 

“I’m assuming, anticipating, that it's going to be favorable to her, that she was not using the cell phone like one of the reported witnesses said,” said Victor Knapp, after Sharp's routine court appearance in Brooklyn Criminal Court on Thursday morning. 

Knapp, who previously called the crash an "accident" for which his client bears no responsibility, pinned blame on the city for failing to enforce parking regulations at the corner.

“It’s a classic case of why there should be enforcement of parking restrictions to prevent cars parking near the intersection, that’s exactly what happened here,” Knapp said.

“Poor little kid darts out. It’s a really unfortunate situation. Horrible.”

Just a little over a mile away at the same time, advocates and neighbors in Fort Greene called on the city to fully fund school crossing guards to keep kids safe.

"There are plenty of people out there looking for jobs. I can't believe that it's so hard to staff that you don't even try — you justify that as a reason to cut the budget," Downtown Brooklyn Prospect Elementary PTSO President Kay White said at the rally, which drew about 30 parents from the community.

And back inside the courtroom at 120 Schermerhorn St., Judge Pat Torres adjourned the case pending the completion of discovery requirements until Feb. 5, 2024. A spokesperson for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office said the investigation is ongoing and that additional charges are possible. 

Sharp has a nearly decade-long history of suing other motorists for their alleged reckless driving, according to court documents.

NYPD tow truck driver Stephanie Sharp appears in court on Thursday. Photo: Julianne Cuba

The longtime NYPD driver, who walked out of court accompanied by a handful of her colleagues from the union that represents NYPD tow truck drivers, NYC Civil Service Employees Local 983, declined to comment. 

And the boy’s heartbroken mother also declined to comment. 

Additional reporting by David Meyer

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