Oct. 6, by Nathaly Pesantez
The Brooklyn DA office is still investigating the hit-and-run death of a cyclist in Greenpoint despite the police announcing this summer that charges wouldn’t be pressed against the driver.
Craig Esswein, Assistant District Attorney, said that his team is still in the process of investigating the July 22 incident involving 27-year-old Neftaly Ramirez, who was struck and killed by an garbage truck while riding his bike on Franklin Street in the early hours of July 22.
The investigation continues after the NYPD did not press charges against the Action Carting driver, as its not clear if the driver was aware that he hit Ramirez, thereby ascertaining criminality. The Brooklyn DA’s investigation will determine if the case is a criminal or a civil one.
“The crime requires either that the person had knowledge or reason to know that that they struck someone,” Esswein explained to residents at the 94th precinct community council meeting on Oct. 4. The assistant DA’s appearance at the meeting comes after multiple residents asked why the driver was not charged during the Sept. 6 community council meeting.
Esswein said investigators are in the process of interviewing witnesses and reviewing surveillance video of the moments before and after the incident. Investigators do not have surveillance video of the incident itself.
An accident reconstruction expert was also brought on to gather information on the driver’s line of sight and driving conditions. The truck’s GPS system is also being looked at to see if the driver steered off a pre-determined course, which may help investigators analyze the driver’s behavior and awareness, if at all, of having struck someone.
While simple to ascertain criminality in most hit-and-run cases, the July 22 incident is different in that it involves an 80,000 pound garbage truck and a cyclist who was hit in the driver’s blind spot, Esswein said. The assistant DA added that the driver’s behavior after Ramirez was struck, while still being analyzed, does not seem to point to an awareness of the hit.
“When a truck goes on its merry way and continues its pickup routes, that’s a kind of behavior that’s at odds with someone who knows,” Esswein said.
Esswein, sympathetic to resident concerns, said that a death, while unfortunate, is not always the result of a crime. He assured residents that the investigation would be robust and complete.
“We’re not going to leave any stone unturned,” he said.