As Outrage Builds, Police Offering No New Details on NYPD Van Crash that Killed Man on Eastern Parkway

Photo: Dave Colon
Photo: Dave Colon

Police have offered no new details about the fatal crash caused by the driver of an NYPD van, as one local official slammed the police department for its “complete disregard” for life.

According to the preliminary report from the police, an unidentified NYPD officer or employee was driving a squad van westbound on Eastern Parkway at around 8 p.m. on Thursday when he or she struck a 53-year-old man who was “standing within the center median” just west of the intersection of Schenectady Avenue.

Police did not release the man’s name. He was taken to Kings County Hospital, where he died. Several media outlets identified him as a homeless man who asked drivers for change at the traffic light.

Cops said the investigation is ongoing, but declined to answer questions on the crash on Friday. Photos from the crash scene show a significant dent in the front of the van, a suggestion that it was traveling at high speed. A witness told the Daily News that the van ran a red light.

And Legal Aid lawyer Olayemi Olurin amplified that claim:

Meanwhile, the area’s elected official also claimed the van ran a red light and issued a statement slamming the agency for breaking “the very laws they should be enforcing to prevent reckless driving.”

“This is yet another display by the NYPD of their complete disregard for human life and apathy towards the communities they serve,” Council Member Crystal Hudson said in a statement that demanded the NYPD release the name of the driver and “terminate” all the officers involved in the crash. (The NYPD declined to comment on Friday afternoon. The agency would not answer questions about the speed of the van or whether it ran a red light. The identity of the deceased has not been released.)

Photo: Dave Colon
Photo: Dave Colon

Streetsblog visited the scene and noticed an NYPD camera hovering over the intersection (see photo, right). The NYPD did not respond to a request to see the footage.

Transportation Alternatives pointed out that Eastern Parkway remains a dangerous strip across central Brooklyn. The crash site is very close to where Aniya Brandon was killed last year as she waited for a bus.

“At least five people have been killed on Eastern Parkway between Grand Army Plaza and Ralph Avenue in the last five years,” the group said in a statement. “In that same time period, 102 cyclists, 209 pedestrians, and 1,004 motorists were injured just along this stretch of road. Both cross streets are Vision Zero priority corridors, meaning they are among Brooklyn’s top 9 percent most dangerous streets.”

The group’s Executive Director Danny Harris described himself as “heartbroken and outraged.”

“The entire area is a Vision Zero priority area,” he said. “Despite the clear and ongoing danger at this location, the city of New York has failed to redesign the area to prioritize the safety of our most vulnerable street users. And while this victim was standing on a painted median, paint is not protection. Relying upon paint – whether for a bike lane, bus lane, or median — is a clear example of offering the guise of safety without actually providing proven protection.”

Harris called upon the Adams administration to fully fund street improvements, following the City Council’s demand for additional funding of $3.1 billion in its annual budget response earlier this week.

It is exceptionally difficult to get information from the NYPD about crashes involving its officers or employees. In October, 2020, Police Officer Ceasar Munoz hit and killed 20-year-old Sofia Gomez Aguilon on Pelham Parkway as he sped at an estimated 60 miles per hour as part of a police chase. And last year, a police chase led to the death of delivery worker Borkot Ullah on E. Houston Street.

The NYPD has declined to answer questions from Streetsblog about the police involvement in both cases.

— with Dave Colon