On February 21, 2013, Ryo Oyamada, a 24-year-old from Japan studying in New York City, was struck and killed by Officer Darren Ilardi’s NYPD vehicle. According to the police, the squad car was responding to a 911 call and had its emergency lights on. Witnesses, however, said at the time that they were not on, and a lawsuit filed against the department by Oyamada’s family alleges a “cover-up.” Surveillance video from near the accident, newly obtained by the family’s lawyers through a Freedom of Information request, appears to back up those allegations.
At the 1:35 mark, the headlights of an NYPD cruiser allegedly driven by Officer Ilardi appear in the upper left-hand corner of Camera 1. It speeds out of the right side of the frame at 1:42, after crossing the intersection of 40th Avenue and 10th Street. (This next block is where Oyamada was killed.) Pausing the video at several points appears to show that the cruiser’s flashing lights were not on, which is consistent with witness statements to the media and contrary to informal NYPD statements, as well as the police report.
At the 1:45 mark, Camera 1 appears to show the first indication that the NYPD cruiser’s flashing lights are on, judging by the reflection of lights on a street sign. This sudden reflection of lights would correspond to witness statements that Officer Ilardi only turned on his flashing lights after colliding with Oyamada.
“The videos were received in highly edited form and have time-stamps that are likely incorrect … we believe that, at a minimum, these videos cast doubt on the public statements of the New York Police Department to the effect that the vehicle that struck Ryo Oyamada had its emergency lights activated,” says attorney Steve Vaccaro.
The video he does have, from the NYC Housing Authority, does not include a view of crash site. “My opinion, as someone who has looked at many videotape extracts taken by the NYPD Collision Investigation Squad, is that this is not normal, that [the NYPD] would cut off the video right before it depicts the crash scene. Usually it’s an overgenerous sampling of video,” says Vaccaro. The NYPD’s version of the footage is not public.
Graphic video from the crash scene shows people nearby lashing out at Officer Ilardi. “You can’t to that to us, man,” one person screams. “Y’all killed him!” According to Gothamist, “police ordered these witnesses to disperse, and no first-hand witnesses were interviewed for the police report.