The NYPD officers manning a police van that killed a Black pedestrian by running him over after speeding through red lights during a non-emergency will not be charged for his death, the New York Attorney General’s Office has announced.
The decision in the death of Ronald Anthony Smith was reached despite apparent evidence that the cop driving the van may have been distracted by watching a sporting event on his phone as he and his partner transported a prisoner on that fateful night in Brooklyn more than a year ago.
Adding insult to literal injury, Smith’s sister claims the offers never even tried to render emergency medical aid to her 54-year-old brother, who was walking in the median area of a major road in the neighborhood of Crown Heights on April 7, 2022.
It was in that context that New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Monday that her office would not be bringing any charges against the officers, identified as Orkhan Mamedov, who was driving the police van, and his partner Evan Siegel.
A report released Monday by James’ Office of Special Investigation (OSI) “determined that a prosecutor would not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt at trial that the officer committed a crime, and therefore criminal charges could not be pursued in this matter.”
Smith’s family and advocates are outraged by the decision, ABC 7 NY reported.
“Even though they broke departmental guidelines, even though Ronald Anthony Smith is dead, the attorney general’s office is still claiming that they cannot without a reasonable doubt prosecute these officers,” said Loyda Colon, executive director of the Justice Committee, a nonprofit grassroots organization working against police violence in New York City.
But James’ office found that the officer actually did not violate any police policy, according to the OSI report.
“Transporting individuals in custody is defined as an emergency vehicle operation under the Vehicle and Traffic Law, under which speeding and driving in non-vehicular lanes is permissible,” the report said in part.
The report said Smith’s death was enabled by the rainy conditions and the dark clothing he was wearing.
“In this case, based on the facts and the evidence, OSI cannot conclude that the officer acted with reckless disregard for the safety of others, or conscious indifference to the risks associated with his driving,” the report concluded.
Nowhere in the report was there any mention of Officer Mamedov possibly having been watching a soccer game on his phone when the fatal collision occurred. Likewise, mentions of what was described as “delayed” aid to Smith by the officers.
While James’ office made public several highly redacted and obscured videos from before, during and after the van struck Smith, the Streetsblog NYC website enhanced that footage that appeared to show a soccer game playing on Mamedov’s phone as the officer pulls it out to call his superiors following the collision. Smith’s family has made the same allegations.
Months after Smith was killed in the collision, his sister said the footage shows the officers were in the wrong.
“The footage … is crystal clear evidence that Officers Orkhan Mamedov and Evan Siegel must be fired from the NYPD and criminally prosecuted for murdering my brother,” Julie Floyd told Streetsblog last year. “These officers drove an NYPD van so fast and recklessly of the median for no reason that they dragged my brother on the hood of their vehicle another 35 feet after hitting him. The footage also shows that Officer Mamedov and Siegel had no regard for my brother’s life when they chose not to render proper medical aid. Instead, Officer Mamedov performed delayed, one-handed, inconsistent chest pumps on Anthony and Officer Siegel did nothing to intervene or aid my brother.”
It would appear that the only point of recourse for Smith’s family to pursue justice is via the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which can recommend the officers for termination.
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