The parents of deceased cyclist Mathieu Lefevre are suing the NYPD for documents they hope will reveal the truth about their son’s death — including a surveillance tape showing the hit-and-run that killed the Williamsburg artist in October.
Grieving parents Alain and Erika Lefevre filed suit in New York State Supreme Court on Dec. 30 after the NYPD denied their freedom of information request for detailed records from the case, including toxicology and autopsy reports, 911 transcripts, and other files. Cops aren’t pressing charges against the driver, but they claim that releasing the documents would interfere with their investigation.
But the family’s lawyer, Steve Vaccaro, says that the disclosure couldn’t possibly jeopardize a nearly closed case, especially one in which police don’t suspect a crime was committed.
“We’ve lost confidence in the NYPD,” Vaccaro said. “We want to be able to see for ourselves what actually happened. The police have backtracked on several things they’ve told us.”
The Lefevres, who live in Canada, filed suit after months of trying to wrestle information from police amid conflicting accounts of the fatal collision.
Lefevre, 30, was riding southbound on Morgan Avenue on Oct. 19 just before midnight when Leonardo Degianni, who was driving a flatbed truck in the same direction, made a right turn on Meserole Street, according to cops. He struck the cyclist and kept going, police records indicate.
Investigators initially ruled the crash an accident after Degianni told cops he didn’t know that he had hit anyone. But an accident report — released only after the Lefevre family rallied at One Police Plaza — showed that Lefevre was actually rear-ended by the trucker.
Last month, the family slammed cops for not collecting key evidence, including Lefevre’s blood and bike paint from the bumper. A detective allegedly said that crime technicians didn’t take a blood sample because they were busy with “more serious crimes” elsewhere. Vaccaro said that police have surveillance footage, taken from a warehouse on Morgan Avenue, that shows exactly what happened that night.
“We want to get it as soon as possible and make sure the NYPD handles it properly,” he said.
A police spokesman did not immediately respond to questions about the lawsuit.
Cycling advocates are calling on Commissioner Ray Kelly to let go of the tape, saying the NYPD has an obligation to show mourning families “courtesy, professionalism and respect.”
“It helps them make sense of what are all too often preventable tragedies,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “Why should they have to wait or not get as much information as possible?”
Reach Kate Briquelet at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling her at (718) 260-2511.