In the hours after Ryo Oyamada was killed by a police cruiser in Queensbridge last February, the NYPD told The New York Times that the officers in the car were responding to a distress call, and that the car had its emergency lights activated when it hit the 24-year-old student. Police told ABC and Fuji TV that the car's siren was also on, and a Community Affairs officer said that the department "has NYCHA security video showing that RMP's lights were flashing when the victim was struck." But the family's attorney has now viewed the NYCHA footage, and says that it contradicts the NYPD's statements to the press.
"The video shows what I believe to be Ryo's last moments alive," attorney Steve Vaccaro says. "And it shows the police car speeding in his direction. It does not show the moment of impact, but in my opinion, the police car does not appear to have its lights on as it heads towards the intersection of 40th Avenue and 10th Street."
Vaccaro obtained the footage from NYCHA through a Freedom of Information Law request.
"In all candor, the family had the right to seek this video from NYCHA the day after Ryo was killed, and I'm concerned with the possibility that the failure to seek the video earlier resulted in the loss of relevant video evidence," Vaccaro says, adding that the clips he obtained were edited.
The NYPD has not responded to a request for comment on the apparent contradiction.
Earlier this week we reported on Vaccaro's motion to amend the original complaint against the City in the family's wrongful death suit. In light of new evidence, the family is seeking to claim that the officer driving the vehicle that struck Oyamada, Darren Illardi, had a poor driving record, and that the NYPD should not have allowed him to get behind the wheel.
They also believe that "certain NYPD personnel intentionally departed from standard investigative procedures and caused the loss of critical evidence" in the case.
Vaccaro says that the NYCHA video may be released in the coming weeks. The City has yet to respond to the family's request to amend their complaint.