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Bar Where Drunk Officer Went Before Fatal Crash Fined $15K, Officials Say

By Gwynne Hogan | April 11, 2017 2:39pm
 Nicholas Batka (left) and his attorney Michael Farkas entered the courtroom on Wednesday for Batka's arraignment on aggravated vehicular homicide charges.
Nicholas Batka (left) and his attorney Michael Farkas entered the courtroom on Wednesday for Batka's arraignment on aggravated vehicular homicide charges.
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DNAinfo/Gwynne Hogan

WILLIAMSBURG — The bar where authorities said a transit officer was drinking before he fatally struck an MIT student in a crash that injured three others was fined $15,000 for unrelated violations — but investigators didn't have enough evidence to charge them with over-serving him, authorities said. 

Owners of the The Whiskey Brooklyn were not found responsible by the State Liquor Authority for any violations related directly the fatal accident that took place just after 3 a.m. on July 16, 2016.

At the time of the crash, Nicholas Batka, 28, had a .23 blood alcohol content — nearly three times the legal limit — and police on scene described him as having bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and reeking of alcohol.

Police later determined that Whiskey Brooklyn, at 44 Berry St., was Batka's last stop.

Serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated patrons is a crime, and bars can face disciplinary action and even lose their right to sell alcohol for doing so, especially if it's later tied to fatal collisions.

But at the conclusion of the SLA's joint investigation with the NYPD, the authority didn't have enough evidence to charge Whiskey Brooklyn with serving alcohol to a visibly drunk patron, said spokesman William Crowley.

The bar did admit at a March 16 hearing to a host of other violations, including not posting the correct warning signs, selling gelatin shots, lacking proper labels on beer taps, not having their security guards registered, having building and fire code issues and having poor record-keeping following a July 16 inspection.

The inspection took place the same day Batka drove up onto the sidewalk at the intersection of Bedford Avenue and North Eighth Street and fatally rammed into 19-year-old Andrew Esquivel.

George Routolu — one of the owners of The Whiskey Brooklyn, who also operates The Whiskey Tavern in Chinatown, Whiskey Town in the East Village and The Whiskey Annex next door to Whiskey Brooklyn — didn't respond to a request for comment.

Jamie Wiseman, another co-owner, declined to comment.

Batka, who was released from jail on $300,000 bond, still faces aggravated vehicular homicide and other charges. He is due back in court on May 16.

He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of killing Esquivel, who was walking on the sidewalk with friends near at the intersection when Batka drove up onto the sidewalk, ramming into him and three others at 3:10 a.m., officials said.

At the time of the crash, Batka had been employed by the NYPD as a transit officer since 2015, though he was still in a probationary period and was fired soon after.

His attorney Michael Farkas declined to comment on the SLA fines related to his client's collision.