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Motorist that fatally hit 9-year-old Lucian Merryweather on the sidewalk of Clermont Avenue facing felony charges

Driver in Fort Greene child-death crash facing murder rap

The Brooklyn Paper
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The Brooklyn district attorney is slapping the driver who killed a 9-year-old boy in Fort Greene in November with murder charges.

Prosecutor Ken Thompson’s indictment of Anthony Byrd in the Nov. 2 killing of Lucian Merryweather (memorial pictured) is unusual because deadly drivers almost always skate with mere tickets unless they are drunk. The borough’s top lawman said that the prosecution is his way of trying to make our streets less mean.

“The people of Brooklyn must be free to walk down the streets of our borough without fear that they may be run over or injured by a motorist driving dangerously,” said Thompson in a statement announcing the indictment on Feb. 14.

Byrd, 59, lives two blocks from the site of the crash. He is charged with criminally negligent homicide, two counts of assault, and three traffic violations. This is no first-degree murder charge, which could carry life in prison, but it is certainly heavy-duty. The suspect faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

The terrible and chaotic moments leading up to Merryweather’s death began when Byrd allegedly drove his 2000 Ford Explorer onto the sidewalk of DeKalb Avenue at the corner of Clermont Avenue and hit a building and a parked car, according to the indictment. He then allegedly pulled a U-turn and headed in the wrong direction down DeKalb. Prosecutors say Byrd hit a second car before careening onto the sidewalk of Clermont Avenue, where his gas guzzler smashed into three pedestrians, injuring two and ending Merryweather’s life. Merryweather was walking with his mother and brother when the allegedly out-of-control motorist killed him.

Byrd’s lawyer Danielle Eaddy declined to comment, saying she had not yet seen the indictment, but added her client is not to blame.

“It was definitely an accident,” Eaddy said.

Street safety activists say the indictment is a step forward from the slap-on-the-wrist tickets that reckless drivers usually face, if they incur any consequences at all.

“It’s pretty groundbreaking here in New York City,” said Adam White, an attorney who specializes in cases involving motor vehicle accidents with pedestrians and cyclists. “That doesn’t happen typically.”

In most reckless driving cases, prosecutors look for an additional aggravating factor, like drinking, before bringing a criminal charge, White said.

“This an obvious indication that [Thompson is] taking reckless driving more seriously,” said White about the indictment.

Road-safety activist groups are taking note, too.

“This is the sort of thing that should be happening all the time,” said Keegan Stephan, an organizer with the organization Right of Way, which advocates for measures such as lowering the speed limit to 20 miles per hour.

Road warriors have long pushed for better enforcement of what they call “sober reckless driving.” They say law enforcement does not do a good job holding dangerous auto-pilots accountable.

“These incidents are considered accidents and to some extent inevitable,” said Juan Martinez, a spokesperson for the car critic group Transportation Alternatives.

“It’s important that district attorneys bring tough charges,” Martinez said. “It’s important for the families, but it also sends an important message to drivers on the road.”

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Quote from Anthony Byrd's lawyer added.
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Reasonable discourse

NYPD from NY says:
GOOD! it's about time motorists started getting punished for driving like dicks.
Feb. 18, 2014, 9:58 am
NYer from Brooklyn says:
Amen. It's about time we cracked down on Brooklyn's careless, sociopathic, murderous drivers. Thank you, Ken Thompson. Go get 'em. No mercy.
Feb. 18, 2014, 10:01 am
Michael from Bay Ridge says:
What an awful person - he killed a child on the sidewalk with his car - for no reason at all. Of course he deserves to be punished. I feel awful for the little boy's parents. It must be horrific to experience something like that. I can see no reason not to prosecute this man for hommicide. The fact that he wasn't intoxicated almost makes it worse for me - he knew full well what he was doing!
Feb. 18, 2014, 10:30 am
bkmanhatposeur from nubrucklyn says:
About time! We got to teach drivers to be humane and take care of people walking the streets.

Seriously he had to have more than impairment to make u-turns & willingly smash cars and drive on to the sidewalk.

When people have cars, its not a right but a privilege that one must take great care.
Feb. 18, 2014, 11:12 am
jay from nyc says:
while its good that this clown is getting charged, I would be happier if enforcement occurred which prevent this kind of thing from happening in the first place.
Feb. 18, 2014, 1:59 pm
Rob from Williamsburg says:
Yes!
Feb. 18, 2014, 2:51 pm
claire from Cobble Hill NY says:
Hey, New York Beer Week starts Feb. 26th at the Wythe Hotel. Read about it in the Brooklyn Paper.
Feb. 18, 2014, 3:42 pm
Jake from Clinton Hill says:
Claire, are you meaning to be ironic when you post about "Beer Week" on this article about a child killed by a reckless (although not intoxicated) driver? Because if not, you are a bit tin-eared.
Feb. 18, 2014, 8:27 pm
Pam Staples from Brooklyn Heights says:
Ooh Claire - thanks for the tip. But will there be any wine there? I don't really like beer.
Feb. 19, 2014, 7:49 am
The Chooch from The Bohemian Magic Show says:
Was this jarhead a bohemian? A native Brooklynite? College educated? White? Latin? Hasidic? Black? It would be interesting to know these things. C'mon BP, do some digging on this one. Don't be shy.
Feb. 19, 2014, 11:50 am
Brooklyn's own.. from Gravesend says:
Good for Ken Thompson for taking this crime seriously. And it is a crime! People are getting run over everyday here and either the driver takes off or they get a slap on the wrist. Imagine having someone you love so much get mowed down by some jerk or having your loved one paralyzed for life. It's not a joke. Enough is enough. Hope Thompson will continue to hold people accountable for their actions.
Feb. 20, 2014, 7:48 pm

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