With Driver’s Sentence Hidden, Public Doesn’t Know If Eric Gonzalez Got Justice for Chooi Tan

Gonzalez agreed to a plea deal with the unlicensed driver who killed Tan on a Canarsie sidewalk with a stolen car. The terms were sealed by the judge, according to the DA.

Scene of the crash that killed Chooi Tan. Video still: WABC
Scene of the crash that killed Chooi Tan. Video still: WABC

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez agreed to a plea deal with an unlicensed hit-and-run driver who killed a woman on a Canarsie sidewalk with a stolen car two years ago. The terms of the deal were kept under wraps on order from a judge, according to the DA’s office.

A male driver and at least one passenger were in a Toyota SUV on the afternoon of May 1, 2016, when the driver crashed into a second vehicle and jumped the curb at E. 94th Street and Avenue K, striking 51-year-old Chooi Tan and her husband, 57-year-old Mun Khor, the Daily News reported.

“I saw the woman lying on the floor in agony,” a witness told WABC. “She was so much in pain.”

Tan died at Brookdale Hospital. Khor and the driver of the second vehicle were hospitalized.

The SUV occupants fled the scene on foot. The News reported that there were two people in the SUV, but at the time DNAinfo and WABC said police were looking for a driver and two passengers. DNAinfo said the suspects ranged in age from 15 to 20.

NYPD told the News the SUV was stolen two days before the crash, when a driver left the keys in the ignition outside a bodega in East Flatbush.

Court records say Jayson Joseph was arrested in connection with the crash on August 27, 2016. He was charged with leaving the scene of a crash resulting in injury, third degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, and misdemeanor criminal mischief. The top charge against Joseph, leaving the scene, is a class D felony with penalties ranging from probation to seven years in prison.

Gonzalez did not charge Joseph for the act of taking Chooi Tan’s life, or for injuring her husband and the third victim.

Joseph was arrested again last January for attempting to hold up a Canarsie bodega. The Daily News said he was 20 years old. If that’s accurate, he would have been at least 18 in May of 2016.

Sometime after the January robbery arrest, Joseph pled guilty to leaving the scene of the crash that killed Tan. He was sentenced on June 6 by Supreme Court Justice Jill Konviser.

“That case was adjudicated and sealed by the judge on the same day that the defendant was sentenced to 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison following his guilty plea to third-degree robbery for a separate incident,” a Gonzalez spokesperson told Streetsblog in a statement.

In his relatively short time at the helm of the DA’s office, Gonzalez has shown a tendency to consent to lenient plea deals for hit-and-run drivers who kill people. The public may never know if Gonzalez saw justice done for Chooi Tan and her family.

After the sentencing hearing, the Joseph case disappeared from an online database of court records. We’ve asked Gonzalez’s office why Konviser sealed the outcome. We’ll update this post with any new information.