New York City police do not investigate every traffic accident -- even those where someone is traumatically injured.
Transportation Alternatives, a transit advocacy group, reported today that police only investigate 10 percent of about 3,000 crashes that seriously injure New Yorkers.
Last July, a car struck Clara Heyworth, 28, on her way to meet her husband, Jacob Stevens. She later died from her injuries, which included blunt trauma to her head and lower right side, according to court documents.
Stevens filed a lawsuit today against the NYPD, alleging that cops did not do enough to investigate her case.
The NYPD has 19 investigators in its Accident Investigation Squad, but
the officers are only called to the scene of a crash when a victim is
dead or likely to die, according to Transportation Alternatives. In Heyworth’s case, police apparently believed she would live.
An NYPD officer requested investigators on the scene at 2:06 a.m., but
the request was canceled at 2:59 a.m., according to documents,
apparently because Heyworth was still alive.
The court documents allege that the driver, Anthony Webb, who was driving with a learner’s permit, was speeding and had been drinking.
Cops eventually investigated the case, but Stevens said the delay meant that they missed much of the evidence, such as measuring skid marks, taking photographs, identifying witnesses or getting videotapes.
According to court documents, Stevens argues, “Webb’s outrageous conduct will go unpunished, because the New York City Police Department failed to investigate Webb, and caused evidence of his crime to be destroyed.”
It continues, “This was no random lapse. NYPD has an official policy of failing to meaningfully investigate crashes."
On the steps of City Hall this morning, Stevens and politicians demanded that Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the NYPD fix the way they investigate traffic crashes.
The group wants Bloomberg to create a task force to overhaul the way cops investigate crashes.
“The police investigate all potentially criminal incidents, not only murders, so why should traffic accidents be any different?” said Councilman Peter Vallone, chair of the Public Safety Committee.