Days after being charged with manslaughter and a DWI after crashing his SUV onto a Williamsburg sidewalk, killing one and seriously injuring three pedestrians, Nicholas Batka will be fired from the NYPD, Commissioner Bill Bratton announced today. In addition, officers who drank with Batka that night are being stripped of their guns and badges.
Officers Jeremy Rodriguez and Emmanuel Collado will be stripped of their guns and badges, "for the good of the department" a source told WPIX. This isn't Collado's only legal problem, as he's one of ten officers named in a lawsuit by activist Christina Gonzalez accusing police of arresting her for filming them at protests. According to the New York Post, Batka is able to be fired so quickly because he's still in his probationary hiring period, and therefore isn't eligible for a departmental trial.
At least one of Batka's friends was willing to try to spin things in a good light for Batka, with his friend Justin Alton telling the Post that Batka is a "great guy," that the DUI was an accident and that he's dealing with personal stress related to the death of his older brother.
Batka killed MIT scholarship student Andrew Esquivel, 21, who was living in New York for the summer for an internship. Another MIT student, Sophia Tabchouri, was injured, as was former student James Balchunas. The third injured pedestrian, Divya Menezes, is unaffiliated with the university.
After killing Esquivel with his car, witnesses say Batka tried to flee the scene, but was prevented by good Samaritans who pushed his door closed. He then allegedly moved over to the passenger side in an attempt to pretend he wasn't driving.
The drunken cop car crash is reminiscent of the 2001 scandal involving officer Joseph Gray, who drunkenly killed four people (including an unborn child) as they crossed a street in Sunset Park. It later emerged that Gray was drinking with other officers in a topless bar and a parking lot before running over the pedestrians. Two officers were later dismissed during the fallout, and Gray was imprisoned for ten years after being convicted of manslaughter.