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Video Shows NYPD Van Fatally Hit Williamsburg Teacher

By Gwynne Hogan | March 22, 2016 5:36pm
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WILLIAMSBURG — A video released Monday shows a police van fatally colliding with a Spanish teacher in a crosswalk in 2013, calling into question the city's claims that the pedestrian caused the crash.

The video shows the moments leading up to the death of Felix Coss, 61, a beloved teacher at Beginning with Children Charter School.

Coss was crossing Hooper Street on July 6, 2013, when Police Officer Paula Medrano pulled a quick left hand turn in a police van from Broadway, striking him.

Eyewitnesses at the time of the collision said that the Medrano was talking on her cellphone at the time of the incident, though the driver can't be seen in the surveillance footage.

 Teacher Felix Coss, in a photo taken in 2009 as he sorts through seniors' class rings before the presentation ceremony. 
Teacher Felix Coss, in a photo taken in 2009 as he sorts through seniors' class rings before the presentation ceremony. 
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Taken by Sandra Granizo Cruz

The collision knocked Coss to the ground, causing him to smack his head on the pavement. The teacher was rushed to Bellevue Hospital but could not be saved.

Both Coss and Medrano had green lights, according to police at the time, but the van did not yield to the pedestrian. Medrano had not been responding to an emergency at the time of the crash, police said.

Coss' brother Ivan Coss filed suit against the city and the police department in November 2013, claiming negligence on the part of the officer.

City lawyers, in their response papers, claimed that Coss was partially responsible for his own death, according to Streetsblog that first obtained a copy of the video.

"[Coss] voluntarily performed and engaged in the alleged activity and assumed the risk of the injuries and/or damages claimed," the website quotes the court papers. "[Coss] failed to use all required, proper, appropriate and reasonable safety devices and/or equipment and failed to take all proper, appropriate and reasonable steps to assure his/her/their safety … Plaintiff(s)’ implied assumption of risk caused or contributed, in whole or in part [sic] to his/her/their injuries.

City Law Department spokesman Nicholas Paolucci declined to comment on the case citing the ongoing litigation.

Andrew Levine, the attorney representing the Ivan Coss, couldn't be reached for comment immediately.