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NYPD Sued for Failing in Traffic Investigations
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On Monday, Jacob Stevens, whose wife Clara Heyworth was killed in a traffic accident in 2011, sued the NYPD accusing it of routinely failing to investigate serious traffic accidents. Stevens’ lawsuit mentions that the NYPD follows the policy of calling off investigations if the victim is no “dead or likely to die.” On July 10, 2011, when Stevens’ wife Clara was crossing the street, she was hit by the car driven by one Anthony Webb. The NYPD Accident Investigation Squad arrived at the scene and began collecting evidence, but within an hour the investigation was called off because Clara was still alive. Clara Heyworth succumbed to her injuries the next day. The investigation resumed 72 hours after it was confirmed that the victim was dead. Meanwhile, critical evidence had already been destroyed, including tapes from nearby cctv, skid marks of the car, and all evidence from the vehicle’s event data recorder.

Stevens said in a statement, “The NYPD made a conscious decision not to investigate the scene of Clara’s death … And we know this wasn’t an isolated incident – it fits a pattern.”

Stevens’ complaint mentions that the traffic accident investigation policy of the NYPD violates the state law, which requires “thorough” investigations anytime a person is seriously injured in a traffic accident, and it does not mandate confining such investigations only to cases where a person is fatally or near-fatally wounded. The lawsuit alleges that the policy is part of a “larger NYPD program of underreporting serious crimes.” The lawsuit also alleges that by categorizing deadly traffic crashes as “accidents” instead of vehicular manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide, the NYPD is able to lower the city’s reported crime statistics.

  
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Stevens has also sued Webb, the driver of the killing vehicle, alleging that he was drunk and driving without a license. Webb is due in court on Wednesday.

Transportation Alternatives, a pedestrian advocacy group in New York City report that the 304 cases investigated by the NYPD in 2011 represent only 10 percent of approximately 3000 traffic crashes that lead to serious injuries or death each year.

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