A Brownstone Brooklyn politician is suing the NYPD, adding his name to a lawsuit that could force cops to disclose their records in serious collisions between cars and bikes.
Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) and the cycling advocacy group Transportation Alternatives joined a case against the police department filed by the family of deceased cyclist Mathieu Lefevre seeking documents and videos obtained by cops investigating the hit-and-run that claimed the 30-year-old artist’s life last October.
The politician claims the NYPD has no excuse for not handing over its case files, considering investigators have already said they don’t plan to press criminal charges against the trucker who hit the biker and left the scene.
“There is no reason to assume that disclosure of information from an open crash investigation to victims or their family members would interfere with an NYPD investigation, especially when the driver has been notified that they are cleared of charges,” said Lander.
Police argued at a Council hearing on bike safety that they could not address the Lefevre case because it was part of an ongoing investigation, even though NYPD highway investigators concluded in January that both parties were at fault and the case was closed.
Lander joined the suit after hearing Lefevre’s mother, Erika, demand that cops disclose all information related to her son’s death — a case that cycling advocates claim has been botched from the start by shoddy police work.
In response to Freedom of Information Law requests filed by the family’s attorney, police released a trickle of reports, photographs, and videos of the Morgan Avenue crash scene showing glimpses of the truck driver and Lefevre before the collision. But some bicycle advocates think the NYPD is sitting on information that could prove the motorist is fully responsible for the fatal collision.
Cycling groups say the case exemplifies the police force’s callous behavior toward accident victims.
“The NYPD’s unwillingness to turn over information to the families of crash victims compounds their suffering,” said Transportation Alternatives director Paul Steely White. “The loss of a loved one is painful enough. Families are looking for answers and closure. By releasing information in dribs and drabs, the NYPD is literally adding insult to injury.”
A judge will hear arguments over the suit on April 4.
Reach reporter Aaron Short at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (718) 260-2547.