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Family of Japanese Man Fatally Struck by Cop Car Plans to Sue City

By Jeanmarie Evelly | March 5, 2013 8:28pm | Updated on March 5, 2013 11:33pm
 Ryo Oyamada was fatally struck by an NYPD patrol car last month.
Ryo Oyamada was fatally struck by an NYPD patrol car last month.
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Photo Courtesy of Gothamist

QUEENSBRIDGE — The family of a man who was struck and killed by an NYPD patrol car last month has launched an investigation into the incident and is considering filing an $8 million lawsuit, the family's attorney said.

Lawyer Jeffrey Kim is representing relatives of Ryo Oyamada, a 24-year-old Japanese man who was fatally struck by cops responding to a 911 call early on the morning of Feb. 21. Oyamada was crossing 40th Avenue between 10th and 11th streets in Queensbridge, police said at the time.

"We feel that the police responded negligently, [that] they didn’t follow the proper police procedure and protocol in responding to the 911 call," which led to Oyamada's death, Kim said, adding that he believes the officers were driving at an "excessive speed," even under the emergency circumstances.

Kim said the family has hired a private investigator and is trying to determine whether the responding officers had their lights and sirens on before the accident occurred.

Kim filed a notice of claim against the city last week on behalf of Oyamada's family, seeking damages totaling $8 million.

The investigation and potential lawsuit were first reported by the website Gothamist.

"We're not going to trust the NYPD to do a thorough investigation on their own," Kim said, saying that the family plans to go forward with the lawsuit if their investigation, or the NYPD's own internal investigation, determines "any negligence."

A witness at the time of the accident told DNAinfo.com New York that the cop car had its sirens blaring before hitting Oyamada. But another witness who works nearby told Gothamist the patrol car did not have its lights or sirens on.

According to Kim, Oyamada had moved to New York just three months ago from Kobe City, Japan, to study English. He was taking classes at a Zoni language center and was living in Queensbridge near where the accident occurred, Kim said.

Oyamada's parents and two older sisters came to New York last week in an effort to get more information about his death before returning to Japan on Sunday, according to Kim.

"They're grieving. They're very upset," he said, saying the family feels the incident has been ignored by the news media as well as local politicians.

"There's been no words of condolences," Kim said. "Regardless of whether they admit negligence or not, they felt that someone should, on behalf of the city, on behalf of that district, some elected representative should say they are sorry."

"It seems like no one really cares that he died," Kim added.

The NYPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Police said at the time of the incident that an investigation was ongoing.