The driver of the 28-ton truck who killed cyclist Mathieu Lefevre in East Williamsburg in 2011 fled the scene and denied knowledge of the crash, despite the blood police later found on his front bumper. Leo Degianni’s license was suspended as the DA investigated the incident, but his suspension was inexplicably lifted, and Degianni resumed driving while the NYPD delayed providing the Lefevre family with the results of their ultimately fruitless investigation. The Lefevres may gain a modicum of justice next week, when the DMV finally holds a safety hearing on Mathieu’s death and decides whether Degianni deserves to keep his license. 

The DMV is required by law to hold a safety hearing on every fatal crash within a year of the incident. As the city’s DAs continue to shy away from prosecuting dangerous sober drivers, the hearings are becoming a forum to highlight the dearth of penalties these drivers face and the lack of accountability the victims' families are sadly accustomed to.

At a DMV safety hearing earlier this month, a judge declined to penalize the driver who killed 3-year-old Allison Liao as she crossed the street with her grandmother, despite graphic video evidence of the crash that shows the driver clearly failing to yield. The driver also admitted to drinking two glasses of wine before striking Liao, though his BAC was found to be below the legal limit. Administrative law judge Sidney Fuchs said he would make his decision at a later date.

Graphic video evidence also exists in the Lefevre case; footage obtained by the family’s attorney, Steve Vaccaro, shows Degianni’s truck turning right into Lefevre without its turn signal engaged. The incident occurs at around the 6:50 mark.

Mathieu Lefevre Crash--CAUTION GRAPHIC CONTENT from Vaccaro and White on Vimeo.

Other video, seen below, shows Degianni inspecting the bumper of his truck shortly after the crash. Police determined that Degianni dragged Lefevre for 30 feet after striking him, and his bicycle around 170 feet.

Degianni Exiting Truck from Vaccaro and White on Vimeo.

"The videotape is just one piece of evidence that police put together over a several month investigation that is critical in allowing the DMV judge to make an appropriate ruling," Vaccaro says. "He should get all of the evidence that's available."

In order for that to happen, the NYPD has to show up to the safety hearing. Usually they do not, though they appeared in Liao's case. It also remains to be seen whether investigators will show up to the DMV safety hearing of Ryo Oyamada, who was killed by an NYPD officer driving a speeding police cruiser in Queens nearly two years ago.

The Oyamada hearing is scheduled for February 23, while Lefevre's hearing is next Tuesday, January 27th.

Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson inherited the Lefevre investigation from his predecessor Joe Hynes, and it remains open should he want to pursue criminal charges against Degianni. While the DMV judge's purview is narrow, he only has to find that a preponderance of the evidence shows that the driver's actions merit punishment.

"The police are in a position to dispel any doubts the judge might have as to the authenticity and reliability of the video evidence and other evidence that was collected," Vaccaro says. "This is the reason we have a Collision Investigation Squad."