As we've seen time and again, if you ever want to rub somebody out in NYC, simply get behind the wheel and floor it. Stay at the scene until police arrive, and odds are they'll let you go without even a summons. Hey, accidents happen! But what if you're a hit man who doesn't own a car? Not a problem if you're targeting a bike rider! Manhattan DA Cy Vance explained last night that as long as you can at least get access to a car, you can easily take out a cyclist without doing any time.
At a town hall meeting in East Harlem last night, Vance was asked about the recently-enacted “vulnerable user” laws, such as Elle’s Law and Hayley and Diego’s Law, and why such laws weren't applied in the fatal dooring incident that killed cyclist Marcus Ewing on East 120th Street last October. Streetsblog reader Steve Vaccaro was all ears:
Vance explained the person who received a summons for blocking Ewing’s path with a vehicle door, sending Ewing into the path of a truck, did not have the vehicle’s keys in their possession, nor was the vehicle’s engine running at the time. Because the laws by their terms (which are now codified as Vehicle & Traffic Law Section 1146) penalize only the "driver" of a vehicle, Vance concluded that these laws didn’t apply. Given this interpretation by the DA’s office, advocates will need to consider pushing for amendment of the law to replace the term "driver" with the phrase "operator or passenger."
Semantics: a lawyers' best friend.