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Cops won’t close fatal hit-and-run case, keeping evidence concealed from public

Got away: Cops are not charging the hit-and-run garbage-truck driver who fatally struck 27-year-old cyclist Neftaly Ramirez with his vehicle in Greenpoint on July 22, but the case remains open, a tactic that prevents the public from accessing evidence.
Brooklyn Paper
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Police will not charge the driver of a commercial garbage truck who hit and killed a cyclist in Greenpoint on July 22 then left the scene, but still have not closed the case — a move that keeps evidence secret, potentially until the controversy surrounding the death blows over.

Five separate police spokespeople told the Brooklyn Paper on Aug. 11 that no criminal charges are being made against the male motorist who killed 27-year-old Neftaly Ramirez because a three-week investigation found the driver didn’t know he hit the bike rider, but then said the probe is ongoing and refused to say what evidence is necessary to close the case — a tactic that keeps the public from accessing the crash investigation report, which would shed light on what happened, according to experts.

“You don’t make a determination and then say it’s ongoing,” said attorney Adam White, who represents injured cyclists and pedestrians. “It’s the epitome of stupidity and arrogance. They’ve made up their minds, but to block any scrutiny, they say the investigation is ongoing, which blocks journalists and family members from obtaining the crash investigation report. By saying it’s not complete and dragging things on for six months or a year, the smoke clears and the case gets old. People forget.”

Cops have been looking into whether the driver — an employee of private trash collector Action Carting — knew he hit Ramirez, who was pedaling home from work at Paulie Gee’s pizzeria on Franklin Street when the motorist made a right turn onto Noble Street and struck him.

But an NYPD rep said police determined that the driver didn’t know he hit the cyclist, claiming it’s impossible to convict him of a crime he had no idea he committed, especially since he was operating a massive garbage truck.

“You need probable cause to arrest someone. If someone hits someone and it’s a big gigantic garbage truck and they don’t know they hit him, you can’t charge someone with a crime,” said Lieutenant John Grimpel.

There is no video of the actual collision, according to Grimpel, who said cops talked to the driver and his colleague who allegedly was in the passenger seat at the time of the crash, but refused to say what the decision not to press charges is based on.

He then refused to clarify what is keeping the case open, saying they don’t close in 24 hours — despite the probe being active for weeks.

Another legal expert said cops often get everything needed to convict someone in one to two days and may find new corroborating evidence, such as interviews with 911 callers, a few weeks later, but anything that would make a big difference is rarely found that far out.

“Most of the evidence they rely upon is usually collected within 24 to 48 hours, maybe a week or two,” said attorney Daniel Flanzig, who represents cyclists and pedestrians across the city. “I can’t imagine what they’re going to recover that they haven’t recovered already. I never see developments later on that they didn’t have before.”

Police typically keep a case open to make it appear as if there’s still a chance charges can be brought, he said.

“To satisfy journalists and the public they keep their files open for six to 12 months,” said Flanzig.

Both attorneys said authorities at the very least could issue the driver a summons for not yielding to Ramirez while making his right turn, but another police spokesman said the driver wasn’t guilty of violating that law.

“That’s not what the investigation is showing,” said Detective Ahmed Nasser.

But cops often don’t put effort into probing cyclist and pedestrian fatalities because it’s easy to let suspects off when their victims are dead, according to White, who said it’s not uncommon for tapes of 911 calls and interviews with witnesses at the scene to go missing.

“Nine times out of 10 the police just figure it’s the driver’s word against a dead person’s,” he said. “Why do they do this? It’s easy, they’re lazy, they’re prejudiced — I don’t know. It’s not a priority for them. They don’t think of it as a crime and they do a half-assed investigat­ion.”

The District Attorney’s office is also responsible for conducting a separate investigation, but usually relies on police reports instead of doing its own work, said White.

“It seems to me the DA’s office relies entirely too much upon the police making the assessment whether there’s any criminality,” he said.

A rep for the District Attorney’s office refused to comment on the details of the case and said it will be closed “when all investigatory avenues have been concluded and a final conclusion has been reached.”

He refused to say which other avenues are currently being explored.

Police are also refusing to release the name of the driver, claiming it is against policy to identify persons of interest before an arrest is made, despite having named suspects of past ongoing investigations numerous times.

Flanzig said it’s uncommon for cops to reverse their decision and decide to press charges, but that it has happened when police are pressured to hold someone accountable.

“It tends to be political pressure or journalists putting pressure on the NYPD when they turn around and make the charges,” he said.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 5:56 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

IAMRIGHTAGAIN from BROOKLYN says:
Who in the world saiys "a tactic that prevents the public from accessing evidence." The public misfits don't make that determination. EVER. NEVER.
Aug. 15, 2017, 12:48 pm
stan chaz from greenpoint says:
A person was killed.
And no one is responsible?
because "the driver didn’t know he hit the cyclist. especially since he was operating a massive garbage truck"?
What a useful get out of jail card for all potential murderers.
This while Action has killed a half dozen people (and maimed whoknows how many) in the last few years.
This is not an isolated incident.
This is an open invitation for these cowboy drivers to do what they want without even getting a slap on the wrist.
This is not the way neither the law nor justice is supposed to work.
This is disgusting.
Aug. 15, 2017, 11:21 pm
Resident from Brooklyn says:
“You need probable cause to arrest someone. If someone hits someone and it’s a big gigantic garbage truck and they don’t know they hit him, you can’t charge someone with a crime."

The lieutenant is dead wrong.

If I'm cleaning my gun and it goes off and kills someone, that's can be criminally negligent homicide. It doesn't matter if I thought it was empty and didn't intend to harm anyone else. Intent has nothing to do with it.

I wish the lieutenant would be more honest. He and his department don't care about this young man or any other person who is killed riding a bicycle.
Aug. 16, 2017, 10:13 am
Crazy Tony from South Slope says:
Action Sanitation has been run by the mob for nearly 50 years. No further answers needed. Police pension will be padded nicely to make this "unfortunate incident" go away.
Aug. 16, 2017, 11:20 am
Ray Kelly from One Police Plaza says:
Who wants to bet that the driver has a relative who's a cop?
Aug. 16, 2017, 11:35 am
Brian Howald from Brooklyn Heights says:
"Both attorneys said authorities at the very least could issue the driver a summons for not yielding to Ramirez while making his right turn, but another police spokesman said the driver wasn’t guilty of violating that law.

'That’s not what the investigation is showing,' said Detective Ahmed Nasser."

Huh? A turning vehicle operator struck another vehicle operator (cyclist on a bike) who was going straight. That's very simply failure to yield.
Aug. 16, 2017, 2:09 pm
Ben from Greenpoint says:
Ray kelly: everybody agrees that applying for a full time job will get you on the right tracks......
Aug. 16, 2017, 2:51 pm
Richard Di Milo from Park slope says:
This case is another stinker which shows us just how incompetent, lazy and corrupt the NYPD is. It really is way past time that we took to the streets and demanded that they start doing their jobs, and doing them like law enforcement professionals who actually understand that their job is to uphold and enforce the law, and to protect the lives of the innocent New Yorkers who pay their salaries.

There is no way that the men in that truck did not know that they'd hit someone. First of all, the idea that these trucks are so big and heavy that they can ride over anything without it being felt in the cab is ludicrous. Yesterday I watched two very disturbing videos that someone had posted showing similar trucks crushing cyclists to death on turns, and in each case, the trucks bounced noticeably as they drove over the victim. If they didn't, then logic would dictate that the victim would be squashed as flat as a pancake, but that is not the case when you look at the bodies in crashes like this. They're mangled, they're crushed, but they're not flat. And hence the wheel rode up and over them, a motion which would be enough to catch the attention of any astute driver. Secondly, both men would have seen Neftaly on the approach to the intersection, so they would have been aware that they were making a potentially lethal turn around a moving cyclist. Knowing this, and feeling the upward/downward motion of their tires bouncing over a human being and a bicycle, the idea that they were completely unaware of any collision is so ridiculous that the NYPD's acceptance of this claim is enough to doubt their competence for any kind of police work. Enough is enough with these infernal idiots.

And then there is their statement that the fact that the driver continued to make his rounds as usual demonstrates that he didn't know what he'd done. Imagine if the NYPD let murderers go free based on the fact that after their victim was shot, they went to a diner and ordered food as if nothing had happened. Are they seriously telling us that the idea never occurred to them that the driver went about the rest of his route precisely in order to make his claim of ignorance seem more believable? You can just imagine the conversation in the cab: "What are we going to do? I don't want to get a ticket. I ain't got time for this." "Don't worry! Just drive on, We'll finish the job like nothing ever happened. Tell the cops you had no idea you hit him." If we had a real police department, you'd never be able to get away with such an obvious scam. Since this is the NYPD, people actually feel confident that they'll get away with this kind of stuff. The message to other garbage truck drivers here: "Just continue driving like an ——. Doesn't matter who you kill in the process, you can always get away with it. There are no consequences."

I suspect that there's also the possibility that the cops know the driver is lying, but some kind of ties exist between the NYPD and the driver (possibly mob related, or even just a sense of brotherhood with another red blooded working class Joe from Long Island who hates cyclists as much as they do).

Of course they could "sort of" begin to redeem themselves by conducting a ticket blitz on garbage trucks in response to Neftaly's death. But as we all know, these ticket blitzes are only ever carried out against cyclists in response to a motorist killing a cyclist. This is logic, NYPD style. Citizens of The Twilight Zone would probably think it was over the top.
Aug. 16, 2017, 2:52 pm
Tyson White from uws says:
It's really shameful that they don't investigate deaths properly!
Aug. 16, 2017, 4:54 pm
Ian D from Park Slope says:
FREE PASS TO DRIVERS: NYPD says all you gotta do is say, "I didn't know I hit anyone." Nothing else matters! BONUS: the bigger your vehicle, the easier it is to cover up the evidence! NOW GO KILL PEOPLE RESPONSIBLY!
Aug. 17, 2017, 12:38 am
Joe from Greenpoint says:
No video and no witnesses. But, people like Chaz and Milo got it all figured out. They remote viewed it back in time!
No way the cyclist tried to beat the truck through the intersection or IN any way could have been his own fault. Impossible! HA
Aug. 17, 2017, 5:16 pm
Joe from Greenpoint says:
They probably "know" the Russians stole the election too!
Aug. 17, 2017, 5:18 pm
Grover from Cleveland says:
Protest Rally at Pauli Gees Tomorrow at noon, bring weapons!
Aug. 17, 2017, 5:28 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I take it that some of you bike zealots need to understand if the truck driver acted with negligence in which he didn't. The police did rule that the hit wasn't even intentional either, which is why the truck driver wasn't going to be charged. Even if he was to be charged, it would most likely having him not solely responsible for his actions. However, I would like to know the causes so I can know what really happened rather than hearing some ramblings of one just pointing fingers and saying that it's all their fault.
Aug. 18, 2017, 3:26 pm
Mr. Piper from Greenpoint says:
If the driver was going to be charged it would be fo leaving the scene of am accident that caused death.
Aug. 18, 2017, 5:13 pm
Mr. Piper from Greenpoint says:
How did the protest go.
Aug. 18, 2017, 5:13 pm

Comments closed.

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