The off-duty police detective who fatally struck a pedestrian in the Bronx yesterday morning was charged with vehicular homicide, criminally negligent homicide, and DWI. Detective Kevin Spellman had been driving a Chevrolet into the Bronx intersection of W. 232 Street and Kingsbridge Avenue, hitting 67-year-old Drana Nikac. A witness said, "He had a red light. He went through a red light and he was speeding. He was speeding."
The Post reports that Nikac, who has been collecting bottles and cans and was crossing the street, "went head-first into Spellman's windshield -- leaving a basketball-sized dent in the glass -- and then over the roof of the car. Her right leg was partially severed by the impact, witnesses said." Spellman 42, claimed that Nikac "came out of nowhere" and refused a Breathalyzer.
However, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said, "[Officers] said he was unsteady on his feet, and he smelled of alcohol." He was eventually given a blood test around noon, hours after the 6:30 a.m. incident. Last month, when an off-duty cop was suspected of DWI after fatally striking a woman in Brooklyn, it also took hours for a court-ordered blood test to be given.
Sources tell the Post that Spellman had been drinking at a bar to celebrate another officer's birthday and the NY Times says two beer cans, one full and one empty, were found in his car. Nikac's granddaughter, who said her grandmother collected cans as a hobby, was upset that no one contacted her family for hours to let them know Nikac was dead.
According to the Times, Detectives union president Michael Palladino "said Detective Spellman worked on several recent high-profile cases, including that of Peter Braunstein, convicted of terrorizing a former colleague for 13 hours after dressing as a firefighter to gain access to her apartment. He said the detective traveled to Pennsylvania to help track down the suspects in the killing of Officer Russel Timoshenko."
Spellman's lawyer said, "He’s a highly regarded, highly decorated member of the Police Department. He is a lifelong resident of the Bronx; he has a daughter," adding, "Detective Spellman is deeply saddened by this tragic accident. And that is exactly what it was. His thoughts and prayers are with the deceased and her loved ones. One life is lost and another is forever changed."