City to Be Sued Again for Shrugging at Pedestrian Killings

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NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 26:  A New York Police Department (NYPD) van is viewed on January 26, 2012 in New York City. After New York City's police commissioner Raymond Kelly appeared in the film "The Third Jihad" Muslim groups are asking him to step down. The groups say that the film they depicts Islam and its followers in a bad light. Approximately 20 activists held a news conference on the steps of City Hall criticizing Kelly for giving an interview to the producers of the film, which warns against the dangers of radical Islam. The film was shown to hundreds and maybe thousands of NYPD officers for training purposes.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Photo: Spencer Platt/2012 Getty Images

New York City's failure to prosecute, or even investigate, most drivers involved in the deaths of pedestrians and cyclists has become an increasingly visible issue thanks to advocacy from websites like StreetsBlog.org and Gothamist and heartbreaking injustices like the death of Brooklyn's Clara Heyworth last year. Today, the New York Times follows up an article on the issue this summer with its most forceful report to date, beginning with the story of 21-year-old Roxana Buta, who was killed on Broadway in May by a turning dump truck whose driver could not be bothered to stop but was eventually tracked down and not charged nor ticketed. Her mother is now suing.

"She is quite insistent that this not get treated like 'Hey, that's life in the big city,'" said a lawyer for Buta's family. They are not alone, as the cause has made its way to the City Council, which is looking to expand the twenty-person investigations unit and reassess insane rules like, "Departmental procedure also prohibits officers from writing even a ticket unless they personally witnessed the accident."

But as the Times notes, with some serious guff, "Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, characteristically, claims to see no problem," with the chief claiming that a new task force would be neither "beneficial or necessary." Times reporter Michael Powell counters, "There is an 'Alice in Wonderland' quality to this defense." In the meantime, people are dying without consequence, and civil lawsuits can't do much to make that more fair.