An auxiliary NYPD car slammed into a woman walking on a Queens sidewalk after it ran a red light and was struck by a van proceeding through a green light, causing the cop car to hit a parked vehicle and careen onto the sidewalk on Friday, July 5th, 2019. Video of the shocking accident, which occurred at the intersection of Harman St. and Cypress Ave. in Ridgewood, was captured by dashcam footage of the parked vehicle.
The NYPD says that the auxiliary police car was responding to a 911 call, according to the New York Daily News. The police car’s lights are on, although no sirens are heard on the video, which picked up other audio from the violent crash. The victim was rushed to Wyckoff Heights Medical Center with knee and foot injuries.
We wish a speedy and complete recovery to the woman who was struck, who was simply minding her own business and never could have predicted such a crash occurring.
Auxiliary police are volunteer members of the police force who assist in maintaining public order and peace. The NYPD auxiliary police program is the largest such force in the United States, primarily assisting in “non-enforcement and non-hazardous duties,” according to the New York City website. NYPD auxiliary officers are not authorized to carry firearms, so it is uncommon for them to respond to 911 calls, although they may be dispatched to do so if the call is for a non-violent crime.
The auxiliary officers in this vehicle likely had good intentions. Most do. Still, it is fair to ask whether these officers were a little over-zealous in their response to the call. On occasion, some auxiliary officers have been a tad over-anxious to assume the role of an actual trained police officer. Without knowing the details of the 911 call the police were responding to and what role these auxiliary officers were supposed to play once they arrived at the scene, it is impossible to say whether their speed and disregard for standard traffic laws was warranted.
According to New York Vehicle and Traffic Law VAT § 1104, the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle may “proceed past a steady red signal… only after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation.” This exemption from standard traffic laws is meant to apply “only when audible signals are sounded” from the vehicle in question. To further complicate matters, the law also states that the exceptions granted to police vehicles do not relieve the driver of “the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons.”
In the video, the police car does not appear to slow down as it nears the intersection. And although the car has its lights on, no sirens can be heard on the video. One dashcam video is not necessarily enough, however, to definitively state that the police vehicle did not have its sirens on at the time of the accident.
The NYPD performs a dangerous job to keep the citizens of New York City safe, and fear of lawsuits should never keep them from doing the job they’ve been assigned. This does not mean, however, that NYPD officers or civilians from the auxiliary police can operate with carte blanche, nor that the officers here are without fault for their actions.
This is certainly a complex case that will require thorough investigation from an experienced attorney to determine if a personal injury lawsuit could be filed for the woman who was injured in this distressing incident, or for the person sitting in the parked vehicle. The attorneys of Block O’Toole & Murphy have experience litigating cases involving NYPD vehicles, such as:
- $2,800,000 settlement for a pedestrian who was standing on the sidewalk when she was hit by a vehicle that rolled over after being struck by a marked NYPD vehicle
- $1,750,000 settlement for a motorist who was struck by an NYPD vehicle that ran through an intersection without stopping
- $1,500,000 settlement for a pedestrian who was crossing a street in the Bronx when she was hit by a NYPD tow truck operating in reverse
- $1,500,000 settlement after an NYPD vehicle backed into a pedestrian in Queens, ultimately requiring her to receive cervical spinal fusion surgery