In a tragic Brooklyn accident, a woman was struck and killed by a car while walking with her husband. The husband is now bringing a lawsuit against the New York Police Department, which is raising larger questions about the NYPD’s accident investigation practices.
The husband explained, “The New York Police Department is legally required to investigate traffic accidents if there is a serious injury, but their current policy is not to do so.” He alleges that the NYPD neglected to collect important evidence surrounding his wife’s death and failed to investigate many similar fatal New York auto accidents.
The suit alleges that in practice the only time the NYPD investigates pedestrian or cyclist crashes is when the death of the victim is certain. The suit also states that the “NYPD systematically misclassifies vehicular crimes as ‘accidents’ creating a false appearance of declining crime rates while motorists…escape consequences.”
If it is determined a traffic crash victim is “likely to die,” the NYPD’s Accident Investigation Squad is called to the scene to investigate. The problem seems to be how the determination of a victim’s imminent death is made. Moreover, the policy seems to conflict with state traffic law which calls for an investigation whenever there is a serious injury.
In the case of the Brooklyn accident, the investigation was called off when the woman was brought to the hospital alive, even though later it was determined she was brain dead. Days later when the case was reopened, her husband argues crucial evidence had been destroyed.
Source: CNN, “Lawsuit alleges NYPD failure to investigate road deaths,” Stephanie Smith, June 12, 2012.