Over a year since a speeding NYPD van fatally struck Ronald Anthony Smith in Crown Heights, the victim’s family is looking for answers.
Smith’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the NYPD, and demanded the officer behind the wheel be fired — claiming the cop had been driving erratically, and killed their beloved family member for “no reason.”
“Anthony had a heart full of love and a joke on his lips,” said Lillian Goode, the sister of Ronald Anthony Smith. “This is what Officers Mamedov and Siegel took from us when they smashed into my brother for no reason. And then didn’t even have the decency to try to save Ronald Anthony’s life.”
The fatal incident occurred on April 7, 2022, when Officer Orkhan Mamedov was transporting a group of detainees in an NYPD van along Eastern Parkway from the 73rd Precinct to Brooklyn Central Booking at around 8 p.m.
Smith has been standing in the middle of the roadway near the intersection of Schenectady Avenue, allegedly panhandling inside a median marked by painted lines.
Mamedov, along with his partner Evan Siegel in the passenger seat, allegedly attempted to move the van from a left-turn lane back into the northbound travel lane to continue straight on Eastern Parkway — but struck Smith once they crossed the intersection.
The suit alleges that after the vehicle hit Smith, the officers allegedly continued to drive the vehicle for around 150 feet, with Smith’s body still on the hood of the van.
Smith’s family also claim that bodycam and surveillance footage showed Mamedov unlocking his cell phone to apparently view video of a soccer game, leading the family to question whether Mamedov was watching the game as he drove.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James declined to prosecute the officers in May, citing insufficient evidence, with her Office of Special Investigation contradicting Smith’s family’s claims that the officers were watching a soccer game, and that they did not provide medical care following the incident on April 7 of last year.
The attorney general’s office noted that the officers were driving in heavy rain, while it was dark outside. They also indicated that the officers were distracted by individuals who they were transporting in the back of the van, who were yelling and deliberately attempting to distract them.
Following Smith’s death, his family filed a formal complaint with the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) in hopes of firing both Mamedov and Siegel. The investigation is still pending.
Mamedov has an extensive history of misconduct reports, with 24 allegations reported and six substantiated.
The Office of the New York City Comptroller recently released a report which showed that the NYPD has cost the city tens of millions of dollars in car crash settlements, with the City settling $246.8 million in crash claims from FY 2012 to FY 2021.
Local groups also echoed Smith’s family’s call on NYC Mayor Eric Adams to fire the officers.
“It’s been over a year. Mayor Adams’ lack of regard for the reckless NYPD murder of Ronald Anthony Smith is as clear as the video evidence in this case,” Loyda Colon, Executive Director of the Justice Committee said in a statement on Thursday. “Mayor Adams has an opportunity to show that he cares about the actual safety of New Yorkers by firing NYPD Officers Mamedov and Siegel. They are a threat to public safety. The CCRB must substantiate charges against both officers, and Mayor Adams must ensure they’re fired without further delay.”
Speaking on behalf of Smith’s family, attorney David B. Rankin also decried the decision not to immediately fire the two officers.
“Mr. Smith was killed for no reason,” said Rankin of Beldock Levine & Hoffman, LLP, “All New Yorkers watch the NYPD casually break the traffic laws. It is wrong. They can wait just like everyone else. A little patience would have saved Mr. Smith’s life.”