NYPD Criticized for Handling of Investigation in Brooklyn Cyclist’s Death

12/21/2011 8:58 AM |

Mathieu Lefèvres ghost bike. (Courtesy GhostBikes.org)
  • Mathieu Lefevre’s ghost bike. (Courtesy GhostBikes.org)

Shortly after midnight on October 19th, 30-year-old Brooklyn-based Canadian artist Mathieu Lefèvre was cycling along Morgan Avenue near the corner of Meserole Street when he was struck and killed by the driver of a turning flatbed truck. The case surrounding the fatal hit-and-run by the NYPD’s Accident Investigation Squad has raised eyebrows—the driver’s claim that he never saw Lefèvre was taken at face value, despite apparent evidence to the contrary—and now Steve Vaccaro, the attorney for Lefèvre’s family, has published a letter (embedded below) accusing the police department of mishandling their investigation and losing crucial evidence.

The four-page letter sent by Vaccaro—whose colleague in a class action lawsuit on behalf of cyclists against the NYPD we interviewed back in June—to Sergeant Matthew Bono of the NYPD’s Highway Patrol Unit number 2 in Flatbush underlines inconsistencies in the AIS’s accident report and conflicting accounts of how Lefèvre was struck by driver Leonardo Degianni.

Perhaps most damning, Vaccaro points out that invaluable evidence such as the blood and paint marks on the truck’s bumper were allowed to wash away in subsequent rains before being recorded, as was Lefèvre’s helmet.

As Streetsblog points out, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes will still have a chance to review the AIS report and determine whether or not Degianni should be charged with knowingly leaving the scene of a crash, but at present he faces no charges.

Mathieu Lefevre

8 Comment

  • NYPD appears to have conducted a biased and incompetent investigation into a cyclist’s death.

    I’m appalled, but not surprised.

  • Thank you for the attention paid to the Lefevre family and their struggle. They are accepting donations for their legal fund here:
    mathieulefevre.org

  • I was hit by a women driving a van in Phoenix in the summer of 1999. It was night time I think and I was probably on my way home from work. I will never forget the blank look on her face when she saw me and then continued to drive through me. I believe that I had the right of way too. I think that I was on a crosswalk maybe. It was as if it was 20 points for her or something. I went back to my boyfriends’ with a wheel bent right in half, it was kind of like a bowl shape…the wheel on the bicycle.
    I think that I notified the police too and they refused to press charges. I think that they told me to throw my bike away or carry it home myself. I was a 24 year old Latter Day Saint then working at Borders Books. If anyone wants to email me about this they can at [email protected].

  • In 97, I was biking through the West Village when a car hit my bike from behind and sped off. I was thrown on the ground, and the bike was pushed into a parked car. I had a badly scrapped knee and a bent front tire. I managed to get the license and I went to the 6th Precinct on West 10 Street, filed charges. (All I remember was the officer was a female in street clothes who couldn’t give a damn.) She took the license, put my name on some form, and told me to have a good day. They never called me. Nothing came of it. As far as the NYPD is concerned, it’s open season on bikes except when they want to shake you down for $50 bucks for not having a bell on your handle bars. They. Just. Don’t. Care.

  • I live in Marina Del Rey CA, bicyclists run red lights, stop signs. They do not follow the rules of the road. In CA, a bike rider has to follow the same rules of the road as a vehicle. They do not. They believe they are invinceable to injury. They are not. A basic observation if you see a bike involved accident, is the bike is at fault.

    I work 6 miles from my house. On my way to and from work, 5 days a week for the last 6 months, I did a study on how many bikes violated rules of the road. It turns out, 8 out of 10 bikes broke rules of the road laws. Such as, riding on the wrong side of the road, running stop signs, running red light, riding on sidewalks, riding in crosswalks.

    A bike came close to hitting my wife as we were crossing the street legally, because the bike ran a red light.

    i do understand there are bad vehicle drivers against bikes. But i believe a bike breaks alot of laws. There have been numerous times my wife and I have come very close to hitting a bike because they run red lights and stop signs.

    My point is, bikes have to take responsibility also, not just vehicle drivers. As our signs say here in CA, “SHARE THE ROAD”.

    Our local police department is focusing on bike law violations this month, which i believe is great.

  • Yeah tennis, thats great. change every instance of bike to car, and you’d be much more accurate.

  • Until you (nickneffsik) are out here in Santa Monica CA, yoou should not be commenting. There was an incident where a woman with her kid on her bike run a stop sign, almostimg getting hit. SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN ARRESTED FOR ENDANGERING A CHILD WITH INJURIES.

    You see, its people like you who don’t think the laws apply to you. But when you are laying there injured, dont come crying to me or any police officer if you are found at fault.

    A woman was drunk driving and hit 10 bike riders. Yes she was stupid and ignorant, should go to jail for DUI. But all 10 bike riders were cited for not riding single file. you see, they could have avoided injury if they had followed the law.

    I’m not saying all bikers are bad, I’ve run into a few, and I mean few, less than a hand full good riders.

    Bike riders have to watch out also. Why put everything on motor vehicle drivers. they have enough to watch out for.

    Oh yes, bike riders also don’t allow pedistrians to cross safely. I’ve seen where they have almost hit pedestrians like my wife and myself. If that incident comes in hand again with a bike rider and my wife or daughter, I will clothesline the bike rider for my famliy and their safety. The police will not arrest me because it’s called fearing for their lives.

  • Who the fuck cares about California? This is a Brooklyn-based magazine writing about something that happened in Brooklyn.