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21-year-old driver charged for fatally striking Borough Park father

fatally striking
A memorial honors Jose Barrera outside of his 39th Street home.
Photo by Ben Verde

A 21-year-old motorist is facing up to 15 years behind bars for fatally striking a 50-year-old father in Borough Park as his family watched in horror in July. 

Authorities charged the driver, Kareem Denton, with a 16-count indictment for allegedly speeding his sports car with worn-out tires and a forged inspection sticker, when he lost control and smashed into Jose Barrera in front of his 39th Street home as the victim was unloading groceries from his parked car.

“This horrific crash was no accident — it was a preventable crime that stemmed from reckless behavior before and during the collision,” said District Attorney Eric Gonzalez in a statement. “The defendant chose to drive a car he knew was not safe, allegedly sped on wet road conditions and took the life of a hard-working father.”

Barrera’s wife had been sitting in the passenger seat of their car, and the victim’s 6-year-old daughter watched the car hit her father from the curb, according to Gonzalez’s office. 

Investigators believe that Denton had been driving 35 miles over the speed limit, while knowingly operating the car on a wet road with unsafe tires, which a mechanic had previously warned him about. The defendant had also allegedly forged an inspection sticker on the car, which could not have passed muster with the New York State DMV. 

Barrera’s killing prompted calls for street safety improvements around Borough Park, Midwood, and Kensington, which have seen a rash of street deaths in recent years.

“We keep hearing that there is no money to do this work, that there aren’t any resources to keep our families safe,” said City Council candidate Shahana Hanif at a July 17 vigil for the slain father. “We need to make sure that our neighborhoods — every single neighborhood where Black and brown communities are dying — are safe.”

Denton was arraigned in Brooklyn’s Supreme Court on Dec. 3, where he was charged with a slew of crimes — including manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, reckless manslaughter, and criminal possession of a forged instrument. The case is the first prosecuted by the District Attorney’s newly formed Street Safety Bureau

The suspect was released without bail, and ordered to return to court on Jan. 28, authorities said.

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