A Department of Motor Vehicles judge read from an erroneous police report and apologized to a driver, who fatally struck a cyclist, during a recent hearing.
Streetsblog reports that at the Friday hearing Judge Jettie Thomas only had the preliminary NYPD crash report for the April 2016 death of Lauren Davis, who was biking on Classon Avenue in Brooklyn when Jennine Chung turned left onto Lexington Avenue and ran her over. Police initially told reporters that Davis was riding against traffic on Classon, but witness accounts contradicted that, and the department later changed its conclusion to affirm that she was riding with traffic.
Police ultimately charged Chung with failure to exercise due care, a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of up to $750, up to 15 days in jail, a driver training course, and/or license suspension. They opted not to pursue a charge of failure to yield resulting in death under the city's Right of Way law, a misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $250 and as many as 30 days in jail.
The NYPD Highway Patrol detective on the case did not show up to the hearing despite telling the family that he would, according to Streetsblog. And though Highway Patrol prepared an extensive report reflecting what actually happened, the judge, Jettie Thomas, had the early write-up reflecting the inaccurate version of events.
When Thomas began to refer to the preliminary report, Davis's mother reportedly piped up to correct the record, but Thomas told her, "You're not allowed to participate. You're invited here as a courtesy."
In the end, Thomas adjourned the hearing without deciding whether Chung broke the law, saying she needed more information. But first, she begged Chung's pardon, saying, "Ms. Chung, I’m sorry for your problems and I’m sorry that this is being stretched out."
Davis's sister Danielle told Streetsblog, "We’re feeling humiliated. Our family is absolutely insulted by what has happened today. If we hadn’t been there, and no one had been there to represent Lauren, Lauren would have been blamed, and that is so wrong."
Kathy Cherry, a friend of Davis's, shared the sentiment, telling Gothamist, "It pains me that this tragedy can't be made into something that helps others by making an example of people who drive recklessly."
The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment on what the protocol is for providing crash reports to the DMV. Chung and her lawyer could not be reached.