A motorist careened down Nostrand Avenue in Crown Heights this morning, slamming into vehicles and injuring at least one person. The mayhem was witnessed by dozens of people, but NYPD declined to hold the driver accountable in any way.
“He was clearly speeding,” Stuart told Streetsblog. “I saw the car go by, and he was swerving around other vehicles.”
Stuart said the driver, a man in a passenger car, swerved to avoid someone crossing the street, then struck several other vehicles and a bus. One victim — who Stuart believes was the driver of the livery cab in the above photo — was transported to Kings County Hospital, according to FDNY. His condition was unknown as of late this morning.
The driver initially left the area, then came back, Stuart said. Witnesses remained on the scene to talk to police, but cops told them there was nothing they could do.
“The police showed up, and we said, ‘This is the person who was speeding. He should be arrested or get a summons,’” said Stuart. “And they told us, ‘We didn’t see it, so unfortunately, we can’t even give him a ticket, because we can’t verify that he was speeding.’ Which struck us as absurd, because you can look at the car. You can talk to the folks that were there. There are numerous video cameras in the stores on the street front.”
So while police will, say, apply criminal reckless driving statutes to delivery workers on electric bikes, the public is supposed to believe NYPD is helpless to penalize a motorist who leaves a trail of destruction on a neighborhood street packed with people, injuring a bystander and putting others at mortal risk.
In recent years, two laws — Hayley and Diego’s Law and the Right of Way Law — gave rank-and-file police explicit authority to issue summonses or criminal charges to motorists based on crash evidence other than firsthand officer testimony. Since the injured victim was apparently not walking or biking, those laws would not apply in this case. But they were adopted because of NYPD’s longstanding refusal to charge drivers who cause harm unless officers see it happen (or the victim suffers life-threatening injuries, which triggers the involvement of the Collision Investigation Squad).
Stuart said the crash could have been a lot worse. “The only reason that car didn’t go into the storefront was because that taxi cab was parked there. That car would have ran right onto the sidewalk and mowed down numerous people.”
The NYPD public information office had no details on this collision.