Tuesday, July 9, 2013

RIP Felix Coss: No Criminality Suspected Again

Riding through Williamsburg today, I saw some graffiti declaring: "RIP Felix" for a pedestrian killed by the NYPD over the weekend. Police Van Strikes ; Kills Williamsburg Man Crossing The Street” noted the Gothamist.  The chalking was at the corner of Broadway and Hooper Street where Felix Coss had been been killed. 

  NYPD Van Strikes and Kills a Man in Brooklyn noted the Daily News.   No criminality was suspected of the police officer, who witnesses suggested was talking on the phone when the incident occurred.  The pattern of the police suspecting “no criminality” when cyclists and pedestrians are killed by automobiles has become glaringCylists across the city have taken to challenge this pattern.  

As Paco, of Transportation Alternatives,notes, : “I’d i guarantee if a driver had hit a cop in the crosswalk... there would be some criminality suspected. such as here... 

Josh Gosciak of Transportation Alternatives noted: "And since she was suspected to be on the cell phone at the time -- and even refused to turn off her phone when asked -- we can expect other drivers to follow her example."  
Already across the city cyclists are talking about ways to respond.   
Posted: 08 Jul 2013 12:33 PM PDT
A pedestrian crossing the street in a crosswalk with the signal in broad daylight was struck and killed by an on-duty NYPD officer in Williamsburg this weekend, and the department says no traffic laws were broken.
Felix Coss, 61, was crossing Broadway at Hooper Street at 4:30 p.m. Saturday when he was hit by an officer driving a marked van from the 90th Precinct, according to reports and photos of the scene. From the Post:

“It was a tragic, unfortunate accident,” a police source told The Post.
The veteran female officer was making a left-hand turn from Hooper Street to Broadway and failed to see the Coss, a teacher at the Beginning with Children Charter School, a source said. Coss was rushed to Bellevue Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
No criminality and no traffic-law violations are suspected, police said.

Contrary to NYPD’s assessment, repeated without question by the Post, It is in fact against the law to strike a pedestrian with a motor vehicle in New York State. At minimum, it seems the officer who struck Coss with sufficient force to end his life would have been in violation of the state’s careless driving law. However, since NYPD routinely fails to cite civilians who injure and kill pedestrians, it stands to reason that the department would choose not to enforce the law following a crash caused by one of their own.
Not counting chases in which a suspect fleeing police struck a bystander — the latest instance resulting in the death of a 4-year-old child — Coss is at least the third pedestrian killed by an NYPD driver in the last 15 months. Last February, Ryo Oyamada was hit by an officer on 40th Avenue in Queensbridge. Oyamada’s family, stonewalled by police after his death, has since filed suit against the city and NYPD. In April 2012, officers in a cruiser reportedly ran down Tamon Robinson, who they suspected was stealing paving stones, in Canarsie.

Though NYPD-involved crashes that cause civilian injuries and deaths are not uncommon, the department does not release data on such incidents. A Streetsblog query concerning NYPD crashes, sent to the department’s public information office in March, was not returned. As far as we could find, no other city agency keeps tabs on the number or severity of crashes that involve NYPD vehicles.
This fatal crash occurred in the 90th Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Deputy Inspector Mark DiPaolo, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 90th Precinct community council meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 30 Montrose Avenue, Community Room, at 7:30 p.m. Call 718-963-5309 for information.

The intersection where Felix Cross was struck is on the border of City Council districts represented by Diana Reyna and Steve Levin. Contact Reyna and Levin to encourage them to take action to improve street safety in their districts and citywide.

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