It's been well over a year since 24-year-old Ryo Oyamada was killed by a speeding NYPD cruiser in Queensbridge, and the circumstances surrounding his death are slowly being revealed. New evidence initially withheld by the City may show that the NYPD intentionally botched the investigation into Oyamada's death, and that the officer operating the cruiser was allowed to drive despite a poor driving record.
Court documents show that two months ago, the family's attorney, Steve Vaccaro, had asked the City to turn over information about the driving record of Officer Darren Ilardi, who was behind the wheel of the cruiser that slammed into Oyamada, as well as the memo books of Officer Ilardi and his partner, Jason Carman.
The City argued that the information wasn't relevant to the case, and that it was subject to state privilege. After reviewing the documents herself, the judge disagreed, and ordered the City to produce them.
In light of the new evidence, Vaccaro submitted a letter last night detailing the family's intention to file an amended lawsuit that claims "certain NYPD supervisory personnel behaved in a negligent, reckless and/or deliberately indifferent manner with respect to the entrustment of an NYPD vehicle to Defendant Darren Ilardi," and that the City is liable for his actions.
The letter also states that "certain NYPD personnel intentionally departed from standard investigative procedures and caused the loss of critical evidence, prejudicing plaintiff’s ability to prosecute this wrongful death action."
Since Oyamada's death, the NYPD has maintained that the officers were responding to a "domestic dispute with a knife" and that their car's "emergency lights had been activated." Other witnesses told us that the speeding car was traveling without its emergency lights on. ABC reported that the "domestic dispute" in question "turned out to be unfounded."
Vaccaro declined to comment on the specific nature of the new evidence. The Law Department's press office has not returned requests for comment, or requests to release all public information related to the case, including police radio transmissions, video taken by witnesses and evidence subject to the state's Freedom of Information Law.
Earlier this month, the NYPD denied our FOIL request for materials related to the Oyamada investigation, including NYCHA surveillance video taken at the time of the crash, claiming that "if disclosed, [the records] would interfere with law enforcement investigations or judicial proceedings."
You can read Vaccaro's most recent letter to the court below.