The trucker involved in a hit-and-run that killed a cyclist in Williamsburg escaped prosecution because cops say the bike rider was partly to blame.
The NYPD’s highway division concluded that Bushwick artist Mathieu Lefevre tried to pass a truck on the right at a Morgan Avenue last October, convincing cops they shouldn’t charge the motorist — even though driver Leonardo Degianni wasn’t signalling when he veered into the 30-year-old cyclist, according to police documents.
“The bicyclist is subjected to the vehicle traffic law when there is no marked bicycle lane and should not have been passing on the right while on the one lane roadway,” reads the accident report, which was first published by Streetsblog.
An attorney for the Lefevre family said the NYPD is wrong in blaming the cyclist, characterizing the decision as the latest in a long line police errors including inaccurate documentation of the truck’s direction at the time of the crash and the department’s failure to collect blood samples and other evidence from the scene.
“A cyclist can pass on the right when there is sufficient room to do so,” said lawyer Steve Vaccaro. “In there case, there was sufficient room. This is just one more mistake by the NYPD.”
Cycling advocates have long criticized cops for quickly closing the case and not arresting the driver who struck Lefevre and left the scene. And even though the newly released document blames both the motorist and the cyclist for the crash, the bike boosters say the NYPD’s findings settle nothing.
“The NYPD should not be acting as judge and jury — that’s why we have judges and juries,” said Transportation Alternatives spokesman Michael Murphy. “By rushing to exonerate deadly drivers and jumping to blame victims like Mathieu Lefevre, the police are essentially telling dangerous drivers that there are no consequences for their lethal behavior.”
The Lefevre family sued police in January to obtain a full accident report and surveillance video from the scene — footage they claim would prove that the cyclist was not at fault.
Cops say they have already disclosed case documents, but the family’s attorney argued that police failed to turn over critical video footage showing the actual moment of the collision — though the NYPD did hand over a file including several photos of the Lefevre family.
Lefevre’s mother, Erika, called for prosecutors to charge the driver at a City Council hearing on traffic safety last month.
“The loss of our son is devastating,” said Lefevre at a hearing. “Our dealings with the NYPD have made that loss even more painful. The NYPD must take traffic crime seriously instead of trivializing it.”
The Brooklyn District Attorney’s office is reviewing the case.
©2012 Community News Group
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