Attorney General James Office of Special Investigations Releases Report on Death of Ronald Anthony Smith

NEW YORK – New York State Attorney General Letitia James, the Office of Special Investigations (OSI), today released a report on the April 7, 2022 death of Ronald Anthony Smith in Brooklyn. After a thorough and comprehensive investigation that included crash reconstruction analysis, body-worn camera (BWC) and surveillance video footage, and witness interviews, OSI determined that prosecutors went beyond reasonable doubt at the trial to: decided that it was not possible to prove No criminal charges could be filed in this case because the police officer committed a crime.

At approximately 8:00 pm on April 7, 2022, New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers were transporting the four detainees from the 73rd Precinct to Brooklyn Central Booking. He was driving a NYPD van with the turret lights on, and another officer was in his passenger seat. Both civilian witnesses and detainees in the van reported seeing a white SUV driving in front of the NYPD van enter the left-turn lane at the intersection of Schenectady Avenue and Eastern Parkway. bottom. The SUV then veered in front of the NYPD van instead of making a left turn, and the speeding officers maneuvered the van into the left-turn lane to avoid a collision. On the other side of the intersection, the left turn lane becomes a median. After the van passed a green light at the intersection, it collided with Smith, who was standing on the median. Smith climbed onto the hood of the van and fell to the ground as police pulled over. The officer got out of the van and started chest compressions. Smith was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Footage from the officer’s BWC showed what appeared to be a soccer match on the officer’s cell phone. An OSI investigation found that the soccer game that was playing on the mobile phone was actually a screen saver for the police officers, and that before the crash, the police officers could watch the live broadcast, send text messages, or talk on the phone while driving. It turned out that they weren’t.

A police officer in the passenger seat of the van reported that the detainees in the back seat were screaming and trying to distract him. He was concentrating on reviewing the warrant when the van struck Mr. Smith, and quickly got out of the car and walked around the front of the van, watching other officers perform chest compressions on Mr. Smith. saw.

The autopsy report concluded that Smith’s injuries were consistent with being hit by a vehicle and landing hard on the ground and did not indicate that he was being dragged by the van. The cause of death was determined to be blunt force injury and the cause of death was an accident.

The New York City Police Crash Investigation Squad (CIS) arrived at the scene about an hour after the incident and began a sobriety test, which included an officer’s breath test, about 30 minutes later, which came back negative. The CIS concluded that the officers showed no signs of disability. During the course of the investigation, OSI also hired an independent crash reconstruction expert to analyze the crash. A reconstruction analysis revealed that the police officer was speeding, but that he stepped on the brakes to stop the van immediately after the collision, and that Mr. Smith’s black clothing, as well as the rain and poor lighting conditions, made the police officer suspect that Mr. Smith had been killed. I concluded that it was the reason why I couldn’t see it. Transporting people in custody is defined as emergency vehicle operation under the Vehicle Traffic Act, which allows speeding and out-of-lane driving.

Under New York law, to prove criminally negligent homicide, you must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person did not perceive a serious and unreasonable danger to death. Failure to recognize risk is a significant departure from the standard of care for a rational person. and that the person has committed a reprehensible act. In civil cases involving a police officer who injured a person while driving an emergency, courts have also demanded evidence of conscious indifference to consequences to prove the officer’s liability. In this case, OSI cannot conclude, based on the facts and evidence, that the police officer acted recklessly with regard to the safety of others or with conscious indifference to the dangers involved in his own driving. In view of relevant statutes and case law, OSI determined that there was insufficient evidence to prove that the officers in this case committed criminally negligent homicide and concluded that criminal charges were unjustified. .

In this report, OSI makes recommendations to the NYPD in efforts to prevent future incidents while officers operate emergency vehicles. OSI recommends that the NYPD:

  • Exclude transfers of individuals detained as emergency operations unless authorized by their supervisor.
  • Require higher standards of safety and security for the transport of individuals in custody and appropriately equip personnel suitable for the task.and
  • After a serious motor vehicle crash, keep police officers to the same standards as civilians and conduct breath tests as soon as possible.

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