Family of baby Apolline sues city for failing to take reckless driver that killed her off the road

The scene of the crash on September 11, 2021 that killed 3-month-old Apolline Mong-Guillemin

The family of a three-month-old baby whose life was tragically cut short by a reckless driver in Clinton Hill last year has filed a civil suit against the vehicle operator, and against the city for failing to enforce its own laws by taking him off the road.

Julien Mong — father of the late Apolline Mong-Guillemin — filed the lawsuit on behalf of himself, his wife Marion, and his deceased daughter, against Tyrik Mott, the man accused of fatally hitting Apolline and injuring both her parents as they pushed her in a stroller on Gates Avenue, near the intersection with Vanderbilt Avenue, last September. The lawsuit also names the city, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Design and Construction, and the NYPD as defendants.

Mott was allegedly speeding along Gates Avenue in the wrong direction on Sept. 11 when he smashed his car into another vehicle driving on Vanderbilt, causing both vehicles to jump the curb and collide into the family. Baby Apolline was pronounced dead at Brooklyn Hospital Center that day, while her parents sustained severe injuries that they allege in their suit have left them with permanent physical disabilities and mental anguish, along with massive hospital bills.

Mott allegedly escaped from the scene initially on foot, before stealing a car and fleeing. He was arrested the following day on auto theft charges and was later slapped with counts of manslaughter by the Brooklyn District Attorney. Mott, who faces up to 25 years behind bars, has been out of jail since November on a $350,000 bond.

A spokesperson for the Brooklyn DA said his next court date is on Aug. 24.

The case sparked outrage after it emerged that Mott had racked up more than 160 traffic violations in his Honda, with Pennsylvania plates, between 2017 and Mong-Guillemin’s death. While Mott had previously completed a short “driver accountability” course, his reckless driving habits made him eligible to have his vehicle impounded under the city’s “Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program” until he completed an in-person road safety course.

Eric Adams, then mayor-elect, was heckled by safe streets advocates days after Apolline’s death, facing demands to “fix our streets.”File Photo by Ben Brachfeld

Despite signing the bill into law in February 2020, former Mayor Bill de Blasio did not consider the program a priority, and the program didn’t even start until after Baby Apolline’s gruesome death.

Apolline’s parents say that the city was “negligent, careless, and reckless” in failing to enforce its Reckless Driver Accountability Act against Mott, whose reckless driving netted him thrice as many school speed camera violations (45) past the threshold for the city to impound his car. The family says that the failure to enforce the law directly contributed to the deadly incident.

The NYPD is named in the lawsuit as well, with undisclosed officers allegedly having engaged Mott in a high-speed chase for running a red light just before the incident. At the time of Mott’s arrest, police spokespersons confirmed to Brooklyn Paper’s sister publication, amNewYork Metro, that officers had indeed engaged Mott in a high-speed chase for running a red light.

“Defendants engaged in pursuit when circumstances warranted discontinuance and failed to adhere to the NYPD patrol guide,” the suit reads. “And the risks to the public, including the plaintiffs, outweighed the danger to the community if suspect was not immediately apprehended.”

DOT and DDC, meanwhile, are named in the lawsuit as having contributed to baby Apolline’s death by failing to design the roadway in such a manner that would minimize, or make impossible, Mott’s alleged reckless conduct, such as by constructing traffic-calming infrastructure making it difficult to speed.

In March, DOT greenlit a plan to turn the one-block section of Gates Avenue between Fulton Street and Vanderbilt Avenue — where Mott smashed into the other vehicle — into a permanent car-free plaza called Apolline’s Garden, dedicated to the infant’s memory.

A spokesperson for the Law Department, which defends the city in lawsuits, said that Apolline’s death was a “horrific tragedy” but would not address the family’s claims before legal review.

“The crash that killed baby Apolline was a horrific tragedy,” said Law Department spokesperson Nick Paolucci. “We will review the case and respond in the litigation.”

Correction: This story has been amended to note that Tyrik Mott is out of jail on $350,000 bond, not $150,000 bail as previously reported.