Graphic Video Shows Reckless Truck Driver Killing Cyclist, But No Charges From NYPD

A Brooklyn cyclist was killed by an illegally turning truck driver in East Williamsburg on Thursday — marking the first cyclist fatality of the new year. Pedro Lopez, 41, was riding north on Vandervoort Avenue when he was hit by the driver of a flatbed truck near Rewe Street, police said. Video first obtained by Streetsblog shows the driver making an illegal U-turn, then slamming into the cyclist from behind at a high speed.

He then crashes into a parked vehicle. WARNING: The footage below is extremely disturbing.
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A witness who provided the same video to Gothamist noted the footage was turned over to police within an hour of the fatal crash. Despite this, the driver was not issued a ticket at the scene, and had not been charged as of Friday afternoon. A spokesperson for the NYPD initially said there was “no criminality suspected.”

According to Adam White, an attorney with Vaccaro and White who frequently represents cyclists, the act of making an illegal U-turn at that speed very clearly indicates criminality. Beyond receiving a failure to yield ticket, the driver could potentially face charges of criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment in the first degree. “It’s unbelievable that the NYPD, given this video and those statutes, has this knee-jerk response of stating ‘no criminality suspected,'” White told Gothamist. “They should retract that statement because the message it sends is horrible.”

A spokesperson for Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, who has been criticized in the past for failing to bring charges against deadly drivers, said the DA’s investigation remains active. In a statement, Transportation Alternatives executive director Danny Harris called on Mayor Bill de Blasio “to ensure that we do not see a repeat of 2019’s death toll, or 2019’s misguided enforcement efforts, in 2020.” Earlier this week, the NYPD revealed that they issued more moving violations to cyclists than truck drivers last year, despite the fact that truck drivers were involved in 43 road deaths last year.

Harris also questioned why the mayor and the Department of Transportation had not done more to improve the dangerous, largely industrial stretch where Lopez was killed. He noted that in 2015, separate crashes claimed the lives of a motorist and pedestrian just a block away from the crash site.

Both Vandervoort and Morgan are two corridors with significant cycling traffic, that will grown even more once Meeker Ave bike lane goes in. The fact that the city has no plans for a protected bike lane to connect Bushwick residents to Meeker/K Bridge is unacceptable.

— Erwin Figueroa (@TransitErwin) January 31, 2020

“Like the streets where most fatal cycling crashes occur, Vandervoort Avenue prioritizes traffic over human life,” he said. “Since Vision Zero was launched in 2014, 10 cyclists and 10 pedestrians have been injured on the short stretch of Vandervoort Avenue between Grand Street and Maspeth Avenue.”

Hours after the fatality on Friday morning, several drivers were observed making illegal U-turns on Vandervoort Avenue.

One local business owner, who declined to give their name, said it was common sight on the heavily-trafficked street.

The owners of the welding shop where the truck driver is employed, at 303 Vandervoort Avenue, declined to comment for this story.

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