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UWS Leaders Demand Stricter Penalties for Drivers Who Hit Pedestrians

By Emily Frost | February 12, 2014 3:04pm
 The board called for automatic license suspension for drivers who break the law and harm someone. 
Community Board Calls For Tougher Consequences for Drivers
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UPPER WEST SIDE — Just weeks after a 9-year-old boy was killed when a taxi driver failed to yield at a local crosswalk, community leaders are calling for stricter penalties for drivers who hurt pedestrians while breaking the law. 

Community Board 7's Transportation Committee unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday night demanding that any driver who kills or severely injures a pedestrian while violating traffic regulations should at least have his or her license permanently revoked. They're calling on elected officials, the Department of Transportation and the Taxi & Limousine Commission to support the resolution.

Board members said they were still reeling from learning that cabdriver Koffi Komlani, 53, has not been criminally charged with any wrongdoing and is still licensed to drive a taxi after he struck 9-year-old Cooper Stock

Komlani has voluntarily not driven since the accident, according to the TLC, which has said it has no other course of action without criminal charges. 

The investigation into the accident is still ongoing, noted Nancy Barry, commanding officer of the 24th Precinct. 

Stock's parents, Dana Lerner and Richard Stock, said they felt betrayed by the lack of consequences for Komlani, who will receive three points on his license for his failure to yield while Cooper and his father crossed legally in the crosswalk. He'd have to accrue six points for a 30-day suspension, and the point would disappear after 15 months without any other infractions, the TLC confirmed. 

Lerner told DNAinfo New York on Wednesday that she supported the board's resolution, which does not define how serious an injury would have to be to trigger the license revocation.

"I’m really stunned by how many [cab]drivers who’ve killed people are still driving," said transportation committee co-chairman Andrew Albert. "Someone who is a cab driver, who does this for a living, they have to be beyond reproach."

Others expressed shock that the driver hadn't faced any serious repercussions.

"The young boy is dead, so why isn’t [Komlani] charged?" demanded Miriam Febus, president of the West Side Federation of Neighborhood and Block Associations, who attended the meeting. 

Like the Stock family, board members were surprised that there wasn't an automatic license revocation resulting from the accident. 

"If people knew that cabdrivers lost their licenses, they would stop and think," said board member Roberta Semer of the resolution. "It’s a preventative measure."

The license revocation should be only the minimum consequence, added board member Howard Yaruss, who said it was up to the NYPD and prosecutors to press charges. 

The TLC declined to comment on the resolution.

"The Mayor specifically announced the the Vision Zero plan would include proposals related to legislation," a DOT statement read, "and DOT continues to review these and all potential enhancements to street safety."  

The resolution will go before the full board for a vote on March 4. Mark Levine, the new Councilmember representing the northern section of the Upper West Side and Morningside Heights, said he will wait until the full board makes its decision to weigh in but said he supports greater safety enforcement.

City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, who represents the lower section of the Upper West Side, said she supported the resolution. 

The committee also invited the Manhattan DA's Office and the TLC to attend its next meeting on March 11 to discuss the issue.