NYPD Cruiser Carnage: Move Along, Nothing to See Here

alg_car2.jpgPhoto: Daily News

Police, witness and media accounts vary — widely — as to what exactly happened in the East Village yesterday afternoon. The NYPD version goes something like this:

Two officers responding to a call to help another officer were proceeding north on Avenue D with lights and sirens. Near E. 5th Street, the cruiser collided with a white Cadillac, which was pulling out of a driveway. The cruiser then jumped the curb and struck several pedestrians. Two people were hit when the officer driving the car swerved to avoid a baby carriage. Five pedestrians, including the baby and mother, the two officers in the cruiser, and a driver and passenger in the other car were hospitalized with minor injuries. The most seriously hurt person was a 33-year-old man who suffered a broken leg and a gash on his head.

Miraculously, no one was killed yesterday. But as you can see in the WPIX story after the jump, the scene of a crash is rarely as antiseptic as phrases like "treated and released" make it sound. 

At least one report says the investigation into the incident is continuing, as is no doubt the case. But will the public be fully informed of the findings? And what of reports by multiple witnesses who say the cruiser was traveling at up
to 50 mph, that there were no lights or sirens, or that passersby who
urged officers to assist victims other than their colleagues were told to
"Shut the fuck up"? Will these witnesses be vetted, with appropriate action taken to avoid such mistakes, if they in fact occurred, in the future? How about claims by residents that police routinely speed on Avenue D? Will the department at least crack down on non-emergency dangerous driving to lessen the possibility of future injuries and deaths?

These are rhetorical questions, of course. As we saw in Brooklyn last month, even when an innocent bystander is killed during the course of what witnesses say was clearly a police chase, NYPD can simply declare that no pursuit occurred. Given the near-universal lack of effort by police and prosecutors when a civilian runs down some poor schlub in the street, what can we expect when it’s one of their own behind the wheel?

The WPIX reporter said of yesterday’s crash: "The first police unit that arrived took the officers, and left behind everybody else who was bleeding on the street." When it comes to traffic safety and enforcement, you’ll hardly find a more suitable illustration of NYPD priorities.