An attorney representing the family of killed cyclist Mathieu Lefevre has sent a scathing letter to the NYPD's Accident Investigation Squad, blasting the department's handling of the investigation. Lefevre, a Canadian artist living in Brooklyn, was killed in October by a flatbed truck driver who left the scene of the Williamsburg accident. When the NYPD finally tracked him down, he said he didn't know he ran anybody over, and investigators took his word for it. Gothamist has obtained a copy of the letter, sent today to the NYPD Highway Patrol, in which attorney Steve Vaccaro raises serious concerns about detectives handling of the investigation, such as:
- Lefevre's mother Erika and Vaccaro both say Detective Sheehan told them there was blood and paint marks from Mathieu's bike found on the driver's side front bumper of the truck, which was allegedly driven by one Leonardo Degianni. Vaccaro says this evidence was not collected, and allowed to wash away in the rain without any documentation.
- The accident report shows the truck hitting Lefevre from behind, and his family is "astonished" that investigators believe Degianni dragged the body 100 feet and did not notice that anything was amiss.
- An AIS detective allegedly told the family's lawyer, "We don't think he hit him with the front end of the truck." This, Vaccaro says, would seem to contradict the accident report, as well as the blood and bike paint found on the front bumper.
- Other evidence, such as Lefevre's helmet, was left on the street "to be washed down into the sewer with blood and remains."
- A witness interviewed by Detective Sheehan says Sheehan told him or her that Lefevre "must have been a big cyclist given all the attention these advocacy organizations are paying to this case."
- Sheehan also suggested to Vaccaro, the attorney, that Lefevre was a bike messenger (not true), and he seemed to shrug off the accident with the observation that cyclists in general "do crazy things."
All told, the letter alleges glaring holes in an investigation that—like other cyclist accidents—seemed designed from the outset to blame the cyclist and take the driver's claims at face value. Vaccaro also alleges that the NYPD turned to him for "assistance in responding to thousands of inquires regarding the Lefevre investigation." In the letter, Vaccaro tells Sergeant Matthew Bono, "You asked me if I... would request that NYPD not release information about Mathieu's death to members of the public."
Ironically, one of the family's complaints all along has been that they've had to read about developments in the investigation in the media, while the AIS detectives aren't telling them much of anything. In response to Sergeant Bono's request, Sheehan emphasized that "the Lefevres have no objection to NYPD's release of information to the public concerning Mathieu's crash, as long as the NYPD also discloses that information to them." But at this point, with the investigation essentially concluded and no criminal charges expected, it looks like the Degianni is off the hook. Last week he told the Times "it hasn’t been proven yet" that he was the one who killed Lefevre.