Court documents finally show why the NYPD's Accident Investigation Squad decided not to charge the driver of a flatbed truck who fatally ran over cyclist Mathieu Lefevre in October. The explanation doesn't seem very satisfying, to put it mildly, but for the first time we have documentation on the investigators' decision to let driver Leonardo Degianni off the hook—even though he did not signal his turn in advance, and left Lefevre to die in the street.
According to court papers obtained by Streetsblog, Lefevre was at fault for attempting to pass the truck driver on the right side. "The bicyclist is subjected to the vehicle traffic law when there is no marked bicycle lane and should not have been passing on the right while on the one lane roadway," AIS detective Gerard Sheehan writes, while also noting that surveillance camera footage shows that Degianni did not have his turn signal on "while waiting at the light prior to" the intersection where Lefevre was killed.
Nevertheless, the tragedy is chalked up to "bicyclist error, case closed." Streetsblog, naturally, has something to say about that:
Rather than charging Degianni for leaving the scene of a fatal crash and letting the justice system run its course, from the video AIS surmised that Degianni neither “knew [nor] had cause to know that he struck Mr. Lefevre.” Sheehan closed the case on January 4.
The documents also show that NYPD photographed the crash scene, despite an equipment checklist indicating that the AIS camera was broken. The photos were eventually turned over to the Lefevres after Sheehan mistakenly copied the wrong file twice, delaying their release. According to Steve Vaccaro, the attorney representing the Lefevres, there are no known pictures of blood and paint on Degianni’s truck, even though that evidence helped police identify the truck shortly after the crash.
Vaccaro is suing the NYPD for withholding information related to the investigation. Lefevre's family, who reside in Canada, have been outraged by the NYPD's handling of the case, particularly the department's consistent refusal to provide the most basic information. Lefevre's mother, who blasted the NYPD at a recent City Council hearing, says she NYPD couldn't even be bothered to tell her that the man who killed her son would not face criminal charges. She learned that from reports in the media.