84-Year-Old Jaywalker Could Get Jail While Deadly Drivers Get Off Scot-Free

Kang Wong, the 84-year-old pedestrian left bloodied during last weekend’s NYPD jaywalking crackdown, was arrested and charged by police. If convicted, Wong could get a jail term for an incident that stemmed from crossing the street without a walk signal. At the same time, the drivers who killed three pedestrians in the 24th precinct in the last two weeks face no criminal charges.

Wong was one of 18 pedestrians ticketed by the precinct over the weekend, according to WCBS. Five motorists were also summonsed for unknown violations. To put that in perspective, the 24th precinct ticketed 58 drivers for speeding in 2013. So precinct officers issued a third as many summonses to pedestrians in one weekend as they did to speeding motorists in all of 2013.

Mayor de Blasio said ticketing pedestrians is not part of his Vision Zero strategy, but he endorsed the 24th precinct’s approach. Said de Blasio on Monday: “There is no larger policy in terms of jaywalking and ticketing and jaywalking. That’s not part of our plan. But it is something a local precinct commander can act on, if they perceive there to be a real danger.”

“The [24th] precinct commander is doing exactly what we want our precinct commanders to do,” de Blasio told WCBS.

Kang Wong was charged with obstruction of government administration, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct, according to reports. The first two charges are class A misdemeanors — more severe than a first-time DWI charge. Obstruction of government administration carries a sentence of up to a year in jail. While Wong is looking at jail time, the Times reported Sunday that unnamed prosecutors blamed vehicular crimes statutes and the courts for their failure to charge drivers who killed three pedestrians and a cyclist last weekend.

In each case, detectives from the Police Department’s collision investigation squad examined the scenes. Commissioner William J. Bratton said last week he would expand investigations of serious crashes, an effort that began last year. But such cases remain difficult to bring, prosecutors say, and have grown more so in recent years as the state Court of Appeals has limited the ability to make serious charges stick against drivers.

Of the 10 crashes that have killed pedestrians and cyclists in 2014, no drivers were charged with homicide or assault. It is true that judges and juries tend to side with those who commit vehicular crimes, but prosecutors who are complaining to the press about the difficulty of securing convictions against motorists should also be making their case to Albany legislators, who have the power to change laws.

To seriously reduce traffic injuries and deaths, the mayor’s office, NYPD, and city district attorneys must be in sync. With 10 people dead, no motorists held accountable, and a pedestrian jailed, what New Yorkers have seen so far in 2014 is closer to chaos.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

78th Precinct Targets Drivers Who Fail to Yield to Pedestrians

|
Last week, Police Commissioner Bratton said the 78th Precinct and its commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Michael Ameri, made him “proud of PD” by clearing snow from the Bergen Street bike lane. Here’s something even better: The 78th has amped up enforcement against drivers committing one of the city’s deadliest traffic violations — failing to yield to pedestrians […]

NYPD Starting to Roll Out Traffic Safety Data Online

|
Traffic crash data, long a closely guarded secret of the NYPD, is now slowly being released online. Pursuant to the Saving Lives Through Better Information Act, which took effect Wednesday, the department will begin posting monthly updates on summonses and crashes, differentiated by mode of travel and contributing factors and broken down by precinct and […]

Will Bratton Direct All NYPD Precincts to Get Behind Vision Zero?

|
NYPD summons data from last month show that ticketing for deadly traffic violations increased overall compared to February 2013, but in the weeks after the official launch of Vision Zero, enforcement remained wildly inconsistent from precinct to precinct. WNYC mapped data on citations for speeding, failure to yield to pedestrians, and red-light running. The dark blue areas […]

Do the 19th Precinct and Ben Kallos Know Drivers Cause Most Street Carnage?

|
Police activity on 79th & 1st–a blitz of enforcement on cyclists https://t.co/KSOdmtUHvp pic.twitter.com/1HO3zaGUwm — Our Town (@OurTownNYC) June 1, 2016 Per square mile, the 19th Precinct on the Upper East Side has one of the higher traffic injury rates in the city. Though motorists cause the vast majority of traffic injuries and deaths, the 19th Precinct continues […]