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Case closed: DA won’t charge driver who hit and killed Greenpoint cyclist last summer

Off the hook: The district attorney on Jan. 9 decided not to charge the garbage-truck driver who hit and killed 27-year-old Neftaly Ramirez while he was cycling home from work in Greenpoint last summer.
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The district attorney let the garbage-truck driver who hit and killed a 27-year-old cyclist in Greenpoint last July off the hook because investigat­ors’ nearly six-month probe lacked enough evidence to arrest him, a spokesman for the top prosecutor said.

Eric Gonzalez decided on Jan. 9 not to press charges against the motorist because prosecutors failed to find necessary evidence while re-examining the case after police announced they would not charge the man in August.

“Following an exhaustive reinvestigation that included interviews with all of the witnesses, a review of surveillance footage, and a consultation with an accident-reconstruction expert, we determined that we could not sustain criminal charges,” said Oren Yaniv. “We conveyed these findings to the victim’s family and expressed our deepest sympathies for their loss.”

The Police Department’s citywide accident-investigation squad started looking into the July 22 collision after the driver — an employee for private trash collector Action Carting — struck Neftaly Ramirez near Noble and Franklin streets as he pedaled home from work after midnight, and drove off without stopping.

Cops said they couldn’t arrest the motorist about three weeks after their investigation began, claiming he didn’t know he hit Ramirez following interviews with him and a colleague allegedly in the passenger’s seat at the time of the collision. And officials never released the driver’s name, claiming persons-of-interest are never identified ahead of arrests.

But the Police Department kept saying the probe was ongoing even after deciding not to cuff the driver and handing its findings over to the district attorney’s office, preventing journalists and the public from accessing the crash-investigation report. And authorities continually refused to explain what other avenues investigators and prosecutors were still exploring.

Locals slammed police in September for not arresting anyone in the wake of the fatal accident, questioning their motives for keeping the case open — a move legal experts described as a way to keep potentially incriminating evidence under the rug until all of the hullabaloo blew over.

Cops continued to say the case was still being investigated each time this newspaper reached out about it in November, December, and January. Authorities maintained that claim as recently as Monday, when one officer insisted “I’m looking at the complaint report, it says open,” after this reporter told him Gonzalez’s rep said the probe wrapped months prior.

“The police closed their investigation months ago is all I can tell you,” the spokesman said earlier that day.

But a legal expert attributed the discrepancy to nothing more than a lack of communication between two very busy offices.

“The DA is going to call the shots — they probably didn’t notify [police] that they are not prosecuting,” said attorney Daniel Flanzig, who represents cyclists across the city. “The police typically don’t know what the DA is thinking and have moved onto the next thing. It’s just lack of communication between the two offices.”

Mayor DeBlasio — who recently touted his ongoing Vision Zero initiative to eliminate all traffic-related deaths by 2024 with the announcement that 2017 had the city’s fewest number of traffic fatalities since officials started keeping track in 1910 — stands by the district attorney’s decision, and is working to improve safety regulations on private-trash collecting, according to a spokesman.

“We’re not going to second-guess the prosecutors and investigators who have access to all of the facts,” Eric Phillips said in a statement. “Instead, we’re working on cracking down on unsafe driving and better regulating the private-sector carting industry.

The Ramirez family’s attorney did not respond to requests for comment by press time, and police didn’t respond to requests for the crash-investigation report or other evidence, including the surveillance video, now that the case is closed.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 5:48 pm, January 17, 2018: This story was updated with a comment from the mayor.
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Reasonable discourse

Resident from Brooklyn says:
Cops mess up the initial investigation because they're in the business of exonerating drivers on the spot. This winds up tying the DA's hands, because he has to make a decision based on a shoddy and biased initial investigation. So, what will he decide? 99% of the time, he'll decide he can't get a conviction so it's not worth it to prosecute.

This is why people keep getting killed.
Jan. 16, 2:16 pm
Ken from Greenpoint says:
most of bikers are nutcases...

This is why people keep getting killed.
Jan. 16, 5:04 pm
Jason from Clinton Hill says:
Time to get rid of the private dump trucks.
Jan. 16, 7:28 pm
gfysken from Greenpoint says:
Time to get rid of Ken from Greenpoint.
Jan. 17, 9:12 am
Jason from Williamsburg says:
Which is more "nutcase," BEING run over, or running over someone and never knowing it? Maybe *that's* why people keep getting killed.
Jan. 17, 9:22 am
Sue from Williamsburg says:
This is only half of it - what about charging the biker for the damage he caused to the car by being so reckless?! He just gets off Scott Free for that ?!?!
Jan. 17, 10:01 am
Rob from NY says:
"accident-investigation squad"

Please stop using the term "accident". NYC changed the name of this squad to "Collision Investigation Squad" almost 5 years ago. Its a crash that typically is caused by someone or something. Not an accident.
Jan. 17, 10:10 am
Jim from Clinton Hill says:
Sue from Williamsburg says:
very strong point most of the bikers are simply drives off....
Jan. 17, 1:52 pm
Ken from Greenpoint says:
gfysken from Greenpoint says:

so far that's the best you came up ???
Jan. 17, 1:54 pm
ty from pps says:
i don't see the headlight on the bike

i hope the police didn't steal it
Jan. 17, 1:55 pm
Teresa Toro from Greenpoint says:
Good decision.
Jan. 17, 2:01 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Why don’t you amateur detectives that solve all these “crimes” on the internet apply for the NYPD?
Jan. 17, 2:36 pm
Gareth from Greenpoint says:
Psycho drivers get away with everything in this city because of the institutional policy of all branches of law enforcement and government to treat road crimes as if they're no big deal, regardless of how many lives are destroyed by them. Pedestrians and cyclists are left with no choice but to exact their own vigilante style justice on these scumbags. Everything is good - karate chop to the side mirror, nails in the tires, a nice big green loogie on the windshield, potato in the exhaust.
Jan. 17, 6:13 pm
Milton Hole from Brooklyn says:
You know, this is really the fault of all the pro-bicycle people. They told him : go ride, it’s not dangerous - but it IS dangerous! Very dangerous! And this idiot just rolled along, listening to his tunes, eating candy, then he died!
Jan. 17, 9:06 pm
Luis from Crown Heights says:
Why does this comments section read like the comments section of Breitbart,ex. Milton Hole, Ken and Sue? The hell is going here? If you like to blame victims of traffic violence, I hear Mississippi is great and affordable...
Jan. 17, 11:10 pm
gfysken from Greenpoint says:
@Ken from Greenpoint,

HA! says the turd who usually spells "most", incorrectly. "Must of the bikers are...."

You are an ignorant & uneducated neanderthal.
Jan. 18, 9:18 am
Keith from Greenpoint says:
@ gfysken from Greenpoin,

my opinion: get your self a full time job and stop to blame others....
Jan. 18, 3:33 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Perhaps, the reason there were no charges was because the driver didn't act out of negligence, and the cyclist he killed wasn't done intentionally.
Jan. 19, 8:06 pm

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