The off-duty officer who fatally ran over a woman hailing a cab in Brooklyn on a rainy night in September pleaded not guilty to vehicular manslaughter, driving while intoxicated, and other charges yesterday. Officer Andrew Kelly, a seven-year veteran assigned to the 68th Precinct, was driving with another off-duty officer and three civilians when he struck Vionique Valnord, 32, around 1 a.m. on September 27th.
First responders reported that Kelly's breath smelled boozy and he was slurring his speech, but Kelly refused to take a Breathalyzer and when a court-ordered blood test was administered seven hours later, he scored a perfect zero. At his arraignment yesterday, prosecutors asserted that Kelly equivocated at the scene of the accident: "After being asked... if he had been drinking, the defendant first replied 'No,' then stated 'Not really.' "
Yesterday was the first time Valnord's father Varius, a pastor, had seen Kelly in person. Kelly's lawyer Arthur Aidala approached Rev. Valnord in the courtroom and explained that Kelly had wanted to personally explain what happened, but Aidala had advised against it. Aidala had previously given the family a condolence card from Kelly after the accident, but it remains unopened. Rev. Valnord told the Daily News, "I see him looking sad but it doesn't change my feelings. I don't hate him, I forgive him. But I want justice."