Family Urges Criminal Probe Of Cyclist’s Death

January 23, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Truck Driver Dragged Man
40 Feet, Then Left Scene

By Zach Campbell
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

BROOKLYN — The parents of Mathieu Lefevre, a 30-year-old artist from Quebec who was struck and killed by a crane truck last October while cycling through a desolate part of Bushwick, say they have received from the NYPD documents and a video related to the death of their son.

The information, released after the family’s lawyer filed suit against the NYPD, contains data gathered by the department’s Accident Investigation Squad (AIS) and surveillance video from a nearby shop. Lefevre’s family said in a statement that the documents and video confirmed what they had suspected, that Mathieu was struck by the front of the truck and then dragged 40 feet down Meserole Street.

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According to the police report, the driver then left the scene of the crash.

Steve Vaccaro, the family’s lawyer, said the file shows that not enough evidence was gathered at the scene of the crash.

“There are no photographs of the crash scene in this 158-page investigative file that we were provided with on Friday,” Vaccaro said, later explaining that no data was taken from the truck’s event data recorder, no written description was made of the scene, and that blood and paint marks on the truck’s front bumper were not sampled.

“My expectation is that the blood evidence would yield how the crash occurred,” he added.

The driver has been issued traffic summonses for failure to signal and failure to exercise due care, although the NYPD has said there will be no criminal investigation.

The case will soon be up for review by the Kings County District Attorney’s office, and the Lefevre family is urging a criminal investigation.

“Given the multiple impacts, the lengthy dragging, and the role of the truck’s bumper and wheel immediately below the driver’s seat in dealing the critical blows,” Erika Lefevre, Mathieu’s mother, said in a statement, “the driver’s claim that he was unaware of any collision shows at the very least a reckless disregard of facts that should have been plainly apparent to any driver.”

One of the citations that the driver received, for failure to exercise due care, stems from an amendment to the traffic law that was signed in 2010 after two children were killed at the hands of a negligent driver in Chinatown. The amendment, the first of its kind in New York, prescribes possible fines, license suspension and jail time to negligent drivers.

The Lefevres initially requested information on the NYPD investigation into their son’s death through the state Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). The NYPD denied their request, citing an ongoing investigation, despite having also stated that no criminal charges would be filed against the driver. Records were released in response to a lawsuit filed last month.

“We are appalled by this and other plainly unprofessional aspects of the NYPD investigation. NYPD should take its responsibility to investigate crashes more seriously,” wrote Erika Lefevre. “No one should be forced to sue the police to get timely, accurate information about the death of their loved ones.”

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