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Driver Who Blew Red Light And Killed Brooklyn Cyclist Charged With Felonies

A flyer for a memorial ride for Jose Alzorriz on Sunday, August 25
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A flyer for a memorial ride for Jose Alzorriz on Sunday, August 25 Amy Pearl/WNYC

The teenage driver who ran a red light in Brooklyn earlier this month and smashed into another car, which then struck and killed 52-year-old cyclist Jose Alzorriz, has been charged with eleven crimes, including manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. Both of those charges are felonies.

Police say they arrested 18-year-old Mirza Baig on Wednesday. Baig, a Queens resident, is also charged with vehicular assault, reckless endangerment, assault, criminal solicitation, criminal facilitation, reckless driving, running a red light, disobeying a traffic device, and speeding.

Graphic video of the crash from August 11th shows Baig running a red light on Coney Island Avenue, T-boning a Honda SUV, which then launches into Alzorriz. A pedestrian and the driver of the Honda were also injured in the crash.

Alzorriz, who lived in Park Slope, was the 19th cyclist to die on New York City streets this year—nine more than were killed in all of 2018.

Baig faces a maximum of five to 15 years in prison on the top charge, and was released on $50,000 bond after being arraigned on Wednesday. He is due back in court on October 23.

"We have no desire to see this young driver spend years upon years behind bars. But at the same time, there has to be some severe consequences to such egregious reckless driving," Marco Conner, the co-deputy director of Transportation Alternatives, told Gothamist.

"The goal that the DA should seek is to deter and prevent future reckless driving. I hope that this sends the message that operating a multi-ton vehicle is an awesome responsibility that we have not fully recognized," Conner said. "Bringing these charges is a step towards recognizing that."

The decision of the Brooklyn DA, Eric Gonzalez, to throw the book at Baig stands in stark contrast to their decision to not prosecute the truck driver who struck and killed bike messenger Aurilla Lawrence in Williamsburg earlier this year. A spokesperson for the DA told Gothamist that "the likely proximate cause of the crash was a large crater on the roadway, which caused the victim to fall before being struck," an assertion that outraged Lawrence's family and friends.

On Sunday, a memorial ride and march for Alzorriz and "to end traffic violence" will begin at Bartel-Pritchard Square on the corner of 15th Street and Prospect Park West at 10 a.m.

“This tragic case illustrates the dangers faced by cyclists and pedestrians when drivers choose to recklessly ignore the rules of the road," DA Gonzalez said in a statement. "I urge all motorists to obey the speed limit, follow all traffic laws and yield the right of way to those who share our streets. If they don’t, they might take a life in an instant - and face serious criminal charges."

Gonzalez added, "I am committed to doing my part to promote safety and will continue to investigate cases of vehicular violence and bring criminal charges whenever they are supported by the facts and the law.”

This post has been updated to include a statement from the Brooklyn DA and details on Baig's bond and next court date.

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