The taxi driver who killed a 9-year-old boy as he crossed an Upper West Side street with his father in January was in court on Friday to fight two traffic tickets. Koffi Komlani has been charged with failure to exercise due care and failure to signal, both traffic violations, in the death of 9-year-old Cooper Stock. His lawyer is blaming bad weather for the fatal incident: "The conditions were dark that night," said attorney Raymond Colon. "The weather may have been a little inclement."
Cooper was holding his father's hand as they crossed West 97th Street at West End Avenue on Jan. 10th when Komlani turned into them, striking both and killing the child. After the fatal crash, Komlani was issued a summons for failure to yield and released. Manhattan DA Cy Vance ultimately decided not to press charges in the case.
Colon said his client was "deeply remorseful" about Cooper's death, and "hasn’t slept since the incident." He added, "He’s a father. He has two children himself. He can imagine what the family is going through."
Someone else who likely hasn't slept since the incident, Cooper's mother Dana Lerner, was outraged at the "inept" handling of the case by the DA. She said the 'bad weather' conditions was the same excuse the DA gave her as to why they wouldn't press charges. "They told me there is nothing in the law right now that specifies that he can be charged with any crime,” Lerner said at the time. "The laws in New York state which say you can kill someone and not face any real consequences are appalling, and they need to be changed.”
Obviously a failure to yield violation should have been issued to the driver who killed my son, Cooper. It is unbelievable that the ticket was not presented to the driver at the scene when he killed Cooper. My persistence has led to heightened attention to the need for justice in this case — it should not be up to the loved ones of victims to ensure that the justice system does its job. Now my family must endure even more heartache as we wait for February when the driver will be in court again related to this long-overdue charge. Both the NYPD and the district attorney, at the very least, owe me a public explanation for this wrong-doing.
In February, UWS Councilmember Helen Rosenthal introduced "Cooper's Law," intended to strip cab drivers of their TLC licenses if they kill or maim a pedestrian as a result of failing to yield. The City Council passed the bill in May. Following a series of pedestrian deaths in the area, the DOT also announced safety improvements on the Upper West Side, including the intersection where Cooper was killed.
Komlani faces up to 15 days in jail and a $700 fine if convicted. He can no longer drive a yellow cab, but he can still drive a car.