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Borough President Adams: Scofflaw drivers who kill should be charged with manslaughter

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Brooklyn Paper Radio

Scofflaws who drive with a suspended license — or who don’t have one at all — should automatically be charged with vehicular manslaughter when they run down other people with their cars or trucks, and not be let off with just a slap on the wrist, Borough President Adams proclaimed this week.

Speaking on Brooklyn Paper Radio, Adams, a retired police officer, told host and Brooklyn Paper editor-in-chief Vince DiMiceli that drivers often get the benefit of the doubt when traffic accidents end with deaths, and law-enforcement agencies must do a better job holding them accountable for their actions.

“A vehicle in the hands of a the wrong person is a dangerous weapon and it takes the lives of innocent people,” Adams said. “If you cause death or physical injury to someone, you need to be held accountable.”

Adams added that drivers who leave the scene of an accident should be considered drunk by default — surmising that the reason they left was to give themselves time to sober up before dealing with police.

“It’s a calculated decision,” he said. “If they leave the scene, we should treat them as if they were intoxicated.”

The topic came up as part of a broader conversation about unlicensed motorist Philip Monfoletto, who bragged about being above the law on social media, then hit and killed 13-year-old cyclist Kevin Flores while driving an oil truck on Jan. 26. Monfoletto remained at the scene after the accident and was cited by police — something that didn’t happen last July when Action Carting driver Jose Nunez, driving without the proper license, struck and killed cyclist Neftaly Ramirez in Greenpoint. In that case, Nunez did not stick around, and was only hit with a ticket for his license infraction on Nov. 10. No other charges were filed.

DiMiceli pointed out that police handled the release of information about both cases differently — never giving out Nunez’s name while wasting no time in releasing Monfoletto’s. Adams said that has to change as well.

“Police should treat every incident the same way,” he said.

And Brooklyn Paper deputy editor Anthony Rotunno, who again joined DiMiceli for the broadcast, asked why companies that employ non- or improperly licensed drivers aren’t held more accountable for their roles in the fatal collisions.

“I think that’s a good point,” Adams said. “We need to make sure that the owners of companies are doing what they have to do to ensure their drivers are safe and that people on the roads are safe in the process.”

In the action-packed show, the beep also talked about his hope that Amazon owner Jeff Bezos opens a second corporate office in Brooklyn, his plans to retrofit a bus that will provide showers and bathrooms for the boro’s homeless, and his belief that it is better to meet with residents at open houses instead of putting on a staged “State of the Borough” address.

So tune in now and hear everything Adams had to say.

Brooklyn Paper Radio is recorded and podcast live every Tuesday at 4:30 pm — for your convenience — from our studio in America’s Downtown and can be found, as always, on BrooklynPaper.com, on iTunes, and of course, on Stitcher.

Updated 5:49 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Yup, scofflaw drivers maiming injured people should go to jail for many years. So should drug users, vandals, and many assorted criminals and general scum of the earth.Lets do all of this.
Jan. 31, 5 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
*Innocent people
Jan. 31, 5 pm
JP from LES says:
This is entirely the wrong approach. The CORRECT approach would be to charge EVERY reckless driver with involuntary manslaughter when they kill someone, since the legal definition of involuntary manslaughter fits reckless driving perfectly. Driving without a license should be tacked on as a separate crime and used to increase the resulting sentence.
Jan. 31, 7:41 pm
JP from LES says:
Also, the city can never be considered to be concerned for the lives of innocent road users as long as they continue to do business with companies like Action Carting. The number of deaths and injuries this scum company has been responsible for should be automatically grounds to sever ties with them. The fact that the city will continue to provide this deadly company with millions of dollars in revenue speaks volumes about how seriously they take road deaths.
Jan. 31, 7:44 pm
JDH from PH says:
It's insane that this needs to be a headline in 2018. It just goes to show you how we've normalized deaths caused by motorists and how we blame pedestrians and cyclists without full investigation. We need to do better. Good for Eric Adams.
Jan. 31, 11:25 pm
Frank from Furter says:
Every accident that results in a death has at least a license hearing in front of a hearing officer for the DMV. It's considered a civil matter. US law in general prevents someone from going to jail unless the state proves beyond a reasonable doubt the person's guilt of a specific infraction of the law not an assumption because something happened. You can fine civilly someone with a presumption of guilt but not jail them...
Jan. 31, 11:45 pm
Adrian from Ridgewood says:
I hope this issue is taken more seriously before other people get killed. If an engineering firm did not obtain the proper permits for a project, I'm sure the city would not set up any contracts with it. But if a trash hauling company does not have properly licensed drivers, the city will completely disregard that. Any company causing New Yorkers harm for no good reason should not be making money.
Feb. 1, 3:49 pm
Bklyn truth from Far away says:
Yeah we should do this do that, start this finish that its all bullS%&t no politician gets anything done its all the flavor of the week ,talk talk ,give it a rest and just collect your paycheck just listening to all this crap makes you sick ............
Feb. 1, 10:10 pm
TOM from Sunset Park says:
I got stopped upstate by a county mountie who issued me three tix: driving without a license, driving without valid registration and without valid insurance. I had all three when stopped but the cop said the NYS computer had cancelled them all a year before. Imagine if I had had an accident. I was lucky he did not impound my car(leased).

The remedy was on me. It took me three months to get my old insurance company and my current insurance company to clear up their original computer errors, and the State to load it on their computer. All charges were dismissed. Costs: multiple trips to NYSDMV & court, and an irregular heart beat.

That's why they don't haul off every driver who gets stopped with an invalid anything.

Lesson from judge to all: Don't switch coverage--ever. This error is baked into the system. NYPD knows this but apparently Woodstock PD didn't.
Feb. 2, 8:51 pm
Tyler from pps says:
Ummm, Tom. The issue is people who KILL other people, not changing lanes without signaling or whatnot.

"That's why they don't haul off every driver who gets stopped with an invalid anything." That's great as breathless hyperbole, but beyond cheap rhetoric it's meaningless.
Feb. 3, 3:46 pm
Gary from Fort Greene says:
So which is it, breathless hyperbole or cheap rhetoric?

What Adams seems to want, or at least wants to appear to want, is to shift the burden of proof to the drivers in deadly vehicular accidents to prove their innocence. Ain't gonna happen. Maybe the penalty for driving without a valid license should be harsher, but not having a license does not by itself mean the driver was grossly reckless.
Feb. 3, 4:34 pm

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