A 37-year-old cyclist who was seriously injured by a hit-and-run driver in Bushwick early last month is still waiting for the NYPD to interview her alleged assailant. The entire incident was caught on surveillance tape, a witness has corroborated the victim's story, and the car has been traced to its owner. But over a month after the crash, while the victim was hospitalized and lost thousands of dollars in wages, no charges have been filed—when she and her attorney last spoke with the NYPD, they were told the car's owner would be interviewed if police "had the time."
According to a civil complaint filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court last week, at around 11:00 p.m. on August 7th, 37-year-old Dulcie Canton was biking with a friend southbound on Bleecker Street near the Knickerbocker M stop in Bushwick. When she neared Wilson Avenue, she was struck by the operator of a 2013 Chevrolet who was also traveling southbound. The complaint states that after striking Canton, the driver failed to stop the vehicle or slow down.
"I heard an engine starting, and it sounded like it was coming really fast," Canton, who lives in Bushwick and was raised in The Bronx, said in an interview with Gothamist. "The next thing I know, I passed out. I woke up, I was on the floor in pain, because the guy broke my right shoulder. And I had a concussion and a really bad sprained left ankle."
The collision was captured on two surveillance videos, both of which show the Chevrolet traveling quickly down Bleecker Street, striking Canton and driving off without a pause. The car does not reappear at the scene of the collision, and in one video, the Chevrolet appears to be traveling much faster than the rest of the traffic on the street.
Canton, who does not have medical insurance, was transported to Wyckoff Heights Medical Center by ambulance, and remained hospitalized for three days. "They kept telling me throughout the night that they wouldn't let me go to sleep," she said. "I couldn't take any painkillers because I had a brain bleed. They were saying if it got worse, I'd have to be sent to Manhattan to get operated on."
After Canton was released from the hospital, she was unable to return to her job at a bike shop for three weeks. Even now, "it's limited," she said. "I can't lift any bikes or do anything too heavy. I also go to physical therapy in the city [for my ankle], so there's a lot of walking and taking the train. I had to take off yesterday." Her bike was totaled.
The side-view mirror on the passenger side of the Chevrolet broke off when Canton was hit, and according to the complaint, Canton and her attorney, Steve Vaccaro, were able to identify the car's owner as Richard Rivera, Jr., who lived a few blocks from the site of the collision. "His car was parked about a block or two away from the accident," Canton said.
Vaccaro sent three letters to Detective Tallerine, the 83rd Precinct officer assigned to Canton's case over the past month requesting that he question Rivera; he says he never received a written response from the detective regarding those requests, and when he last spoke with him, the detective told Vaccaro he would interview Rivera, "If I have the time."
Canton and Vaccaro initially refrained from contacting Rivera's insurance company before the NYPD interviewed so as to not alert him to an impending investigation and give him an opportunity to repair his vehicle and destroy evidence. But since the NYPD had not interviewed the suspect as of September 3rd, they way they were forced to file a claim last week.
Canton says that the last time the NYPD tried to get in contact with her or the witness was two weeks ago. She contacted the 83rd Precinct last week, and was told the detective assigned to her case was on vacation—he is due to return from that vacation today. "I'm kind of disappointed that they haven't asked about this," Canton, who has been cycling in the city for four years, said of the cops. "I feel that it had not been for the witness, nothing would have gotten done."
Last month's collision—and the NYPD's apparent failure to investigate it—recalls a 2010 incident in which a Brooklyn couple was seriously injured by an alleged hit-and-run driver while cycling in Greenpoint. Nearly a year later, no arrests had been made, and the NYPD stopped communicating with the victims.
Canton is seeking undisclosed compensatory and punitive damages from the operator of the car that struck her, according to the complaint. The NYPD has not responded to Gothamist's request for comment.