After Officer Darren Ilardi fatally struck 24-year-old Ryo Oyamada with his police cruiser in Queensbridge last year, the NYPD purposefully destroyed evidence, failed to properly investigate the crash, and engaged in a "cover-up," according to a set of recently filed court documents.

Officers responding to the scene dispersed all eyewitnesses, failed to measure skid marks, and did not check Ilardi's cell phone records to determine if he was using his phone when he struck the 24-year-old student outside a deli near the intersection of 40th Avenue and 10th Street, the filings claim.

The filings contain redactions because law enforcement techniques and personnel files of city employees are usually given protection by the court, but they suggest that the NYPD destroyed video evidence of the crash itself:

Videorecordings made by surveillance cameras near the crash scene recorded four different police vehicles approaching the scene of the crash, but NYPD [REDACTED], making it impossible to identify which of the four different vehicles depicted was Ilardi's. It is impossible to view these snippets of videorecordings [REDACTED] and not wonder why images of the actual crash were omitted. 

When Ilardi and his partner were interviewed by the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau shortly after the collision, those officers "set about changing the testimony of the sole remaining known eyewitness to the crash other than Ilardi—Ilardi's partner, Police Officer Carman," the attorney for the Oyamada family, Steve Vaccaro, writes in the filing.

Vaccaro, who declined to comment for this article, then includes a large portion of the IAB transcript that was provided by the City, but that too is redacted.

The NYPD has maintained to The New York Times and other media outlets that Ilardi was responding to a domestic disturbance and had his emergency lights engaged.

But Oyamada's family points to radio transcripts and other evidence provided by the City to show that he was not assigned to the disturbance, he did not tell anyone he was responding to an emergency, and that two other NYPD units had already been assigned to the call, which was later deemed to be unfounded.

The court filings also suggest that Ilardi had a poor driving record, and that the NYPD had failed to retrain or discipline him for it.

"Plaintiff have only received what may be the tip of an iceberg of evidence regarding [REDACTED]," Vaccaro writes in the filing. "It is apparent that at this stage of the litigation, Defendants have far more information regarding [REDACTED] than plaintiff." 

That body of evidence may bear similarities to the case of Officer Joseph Gray. In 2001, Gray drunkenly ran over a family in Sunset Park, killing three people and an unborn child. At trial, prosecutors found that the NYPD had failed to properly investigate the crash, turned in blank photographs as evidence, and attempted to give Gray a "benefit" by trying to help him pass a sobriety test.

Wiley Norvell, a spokesman for Mayor de Blasio, said in an email, "We cannot comment on the litigation, but ensuring the rigor of crash investigations is a priority for the administration."

A representative for Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, whose district covers the area of the crash, did not respond to a request for comment. [UPDATE // 2:45 PM] In a statement, Councilmember Van Bramer says "This case is a tragedy. We mourn Ryo's death and while we cannot comment on the ongoing litigation, the family deserves transparency and clarity as to the circumstances of this untimely death."

The Law Department has not responded to any of our requests for comment in this series of articles.

You can read the pertinent court filings below.

Oyamada Memo

Oyamada Reply Memo