Jan. 16, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
The Brooklyn District Attorney’s office has closed its months-long investigation into the death of Greenpoint cyclist Neftaly Ramirez, and will not be bringing criminal charges against the driver of the garbage truck involved in the July hit-and-run incident.
“Following an exhaustive reinvestigation that included interviews with all of the witnesses, a review of surveillance footage and a consultation with an accident reconstruction expert, we determined that we could not sustain criminal charges,” said Helen Peterson, a spokeswoman for the Brooklyn DA’s office. “We conveyed these findings to Mr. Ramirez’s family and expressed our deepest sympathies for their loss.”
The Brooklyn District Attorney’s office had been investigating the July 22 incident, where the 27-year-old cyclist was struck and killed on Franklin Street by an Action Carting garbage truck, to determine whether criminal charges could be brought against the driver.
At the crux of the investigation was whether the driver of the garbage truck knew that he had hit the cyclist. In the days following Ramirez’s death, the NYPD closed its own investigation into the incident, as it wasn’t clear whether the driver of the Action Carting truck was aware that he hit Ramirez.
“The crime requires either that the person had knowledge or reason to know that that they struck someone,” said Craig Esswein, assistant district attorney and chief of vehicular crimes, to concerned residents at an October 94th Precinct community council meeting.
Esswein told residents at the meeting that in addition to witness interviews, the investigation was retaining the services of an accident reconstruction expert to determine the driver’s line of sight and driving conditions.
He added that the truck’s GPS system was being analyzed to see if the truck driver had steered off a predetermined course, which could have pointed to details in the driver’s behavior and awareness.
While Esswein explained the logistics of the investigation, he said the investigation seemed to suggest that the driver, who hit Ramirez in his blind spot while driving a heavy garbage truck, was not aware 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.
The DA’s announcement comes after Pro Publica’s investigation into the private garbage collection industry, where it was revealed that Action Carting trucks have killed five pedestrians or cyclists since 2008.
New York City also saw seven people killed by private sanitation trucks in 2017, according to the report.