Citing No Evidence, NYPD Blames Manhattan Cyclist Josef Mittlemann, 67, for His Own Death

NYPD says six cyclists have caused their own deaths by running red lights in 2017. But the department lacks credibility when it comes to traffic crash investigations.

11th Avenue and W. 30th Street, where a motorist killed Josef Mittlemann. Image: Google Maps
11th Avenue and W. 30th Street, where a motorist killed Josef Mittlemann. Image: Google Maps

NYPD has again publicly blamed a cyclist for his own death while citing no evidence to corroborate the claim.

The driver of a Toyota Prius hit 67-year-old Josef Mittlemann at 11th Avenue and W. 30th Street in Chelsea at approximately 1:49 p.m. on November 28. Mittlemann sustained severe head injuries and died the next day.

NYPD told reporters Mittlemann was biking south on 11th and the driver was eastbound on 30th, so both were traveling with traffic on one-way streets.

The News reported that, according to police, Mittlemann “blew a red light” and “struck the passing Toyota Prius.” The Post said the driver “smacked into” Mittlemann after the victim “blew a red light.”

No reports that we’ve seen indicate how police concluded Mittlemann ran a red light. DCPI, NYPD’s public information office, told Streetsblog that detail came from the Collision Investigation Squad, but DCPI could not say if CIS had video or witness statements indicating that Mittlemann caused the crash.

In cases where the victim is no longer alive to give his or her account, CIS is known to base crash investigation reports on the driver’s version of events. NYPD initially claimed cyclists Dan HanegbyKelly Hurley, and Lauren Davis — to cite a few recent cases — were at fault for the crashes that killed them before video evidence or witness testimony disproved those accounts and indicated driver recklessness instead. NYPD has publicly blamed deceased cyclists for running red lights at least six times in 2017.

As is customary when a motorist kills someone and police file no charges, NYPD shielded the name of the driver who struck Mittlemann, identifying him or her only as 39 years old.

According to his obituary, Mittlemann was a triathlete and an experienced cyclist who rode his bike “atop the many peaks and mountains scattered across the world.”

Josef Mittlemann was killed in the 10th Precinct, where motorists killed cyclists Dan Hanegby and Michael Mamoukakis within five days of one another last spring, and in the City Council district represented by Corey Johnson.