An on-duty NYPD officer who fatally struck a pedestrian in Crown Heights last year will not face charges, after an investigation by the state Attorney General’s office cleared the cop of criminal wrongdoing.
The AG’s Office of Special Investigation conducted the inquiry into Orkhan Mamedov, who struck and killed Ronald Anthony Smith on April 7 of 2022, but determined that a prosecutor would not be able to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the officer had committed a crime.
“In this case, based on the facts and the evidence, OSI cannot conclude that the officer acted with reckless disregard for the safety of others, or conscious indifference to the risks associated with his driving,” the OSI report said.
According to the report, Mamedov and a partner were transporting four individuals in an NYPD van on an 1.1-mile commute from the 73rd Precinct to Brooklyn Central Booking at around 8 p.m. with the police lights activated.
While driving westbound on Eastern Parkway, a white SUV in front of the NYPD vehicle moved into the left-turn lane at the intersection of Schenectady Avenue — but instead of turning left, the SUV swerved in front of the cop car, causing Mamedov to move into the left-turn lane to avoid a collision.
In the intersection, Mamedov attempted to move back into his original lane to continue straight along Eastern Parkway, but hit Smith as he was allegedly panhandling in the middle of the roadway, inside a median marked by painted yellow lines.
The collision sent Smith flying onto the hood of the van, before falling to the pavement as the officer slammed on the brakes.
Mamedov got out of the vehicle and began doing CPR on the injured pedestrian, and emergency personnel later transported Smith to a local hospital, but he was soon pronounced dead.
Autopsy reports determined Smith’s injuries were consistent with being hit by a van and landing on the ground, and did not indicate that he had been dragged by the van as some witnesses had claimed.
The Medical Examiner’s office determined the cause of death to be blunt force injuries, ruling the incident an accident.
After the deadly crash, Mamedov claimed that he did not see Smith in the roadway because it was dark and raining. He also told OSI that he was concerned about the transport because the police officer he was assigned with was a rookie, and one of the prisoners was violent during his arrest.
Since his partner had limited experience, Mamedov says he felt a greater responsibility for their safety. He says he was “consistently looking behind him” to check on the prisoners, especially if he heard their chains rattling.
The rookie colleague backed up Mamedov’s concerns, claiming that the detained people they were transporting had been yelling and attempting to distract the officers.
The NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad (CIS) arrived on the scene roughly one hour after the incident, and conducted a breathalyzer and other sobriety testing about a half hour later, which were negative. The CIS concluded the officer showed no signs of impairment.
According to OSI’s report, the rain, dim lighting and Smith’s dark clothing contributed to the officer’s inability to see the pedestrian prior to hitting him.
OSI contracted an independent collision reconstructionist to analyze the crash in which they found the officer was speeding; however transporting individuals in custody is defined as an emergency vehicle operation under the Vehicle and Traffic Law which states speeding and driving in non-vehicular lanes is allowed.
In order to prevent future incidents of this nature, the department made several recommendations to the NYPD — including not treating the transportation of detainees as an emergency operation unless authorized by a supervisor, and requiring a higher standard of safety and security for transportations.
The OSI conducts investigations anytime a person dies as a result of a police officer’s actions, and determines whether the cop is criminally at fault and should face charges.
After over a year since the incident, their investigation has cleared Mamedov.
“Taking into consideration relevant statutes and case law, OSI determined that there is insufficient evidence to prove the officer in this case committed criminally negligent homicide, and therefore concluded that criminal charges are not warranted,” the OSI report said.