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Probe Into Death of Greenpoint Cyclist Hit by Garbage Truck Still Open: DA

By Gwynne Hogan | October 6, 2017 10:01am
 The Brooklyn District Attorney's is still probing 27-year-old Neftaly Ramirez' July 22 death. 
The Brooklyn District Attorney's is still probing 27-year-old Neftaly Ramirez' July 22 death. 
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GREENPOINT — The Brooklyn District Attorney's office is still investigating the death of cyclist who was struck by a garbage truck driver who left the scene without stopping in Greenpoint this summer, according to the chief traffic crimes prosecutor.

While police said in August they wouldn't bring any charges against the driver employed by Action Environmental Carting for the July 22 death of Paulie Gee's barback Neftaly Ramirez, the DA's office is still interviewing eyewitnesses, canvassing for video footage and consulting specialists on crash reconstruction to see if they can bring charges against him by late fall.

"We’re not going to leave any stone unturned," said the Brooklyn District Unit Chief of Vehicular Crimes Craig Esswein at a public meeting of the 94th Precinct Community Council Wednesday night. "If we have the legal basis to go forth, we want to hold someone accountable."

Ramirez, 27, was killed while riding home to the East Village after his shift at Paulie Gee's. He was heading south on Franklin Street, when the truck turned right on Noble Street and struck him, police said. 

Action Environmental Carting, the city's largest private trash collector, has been involved in at least five other deaths in New York over the years. 

Esswein explained the complicated nature of hit-and-run cases to a crowd of concerned Greenpoint residents, many of whom have been calling for an arrest after Ramirez's death. Investigators have to prove that the truck driver knew he hit the cyclist and intentionally fled the scene after.

"Leaving the scene is more than just being involved in a collision," Esswein said. "The crime requires that the person has knowledge or reason to know that they struck someone."

In the case of a massive truck, it's feasible that the driver wasn't aware he'd hit anyone, he noted. Big trucks have large blind spots, loud engines that could mask the sound of impact and they may not be jostled by the impact of a colission the way a smaller vehicle would, Esswein explained. 

In these cases, investigators consider the driver's behavior afterwards, the chief said.

"[If] a truck goes on its merry way and continues its pick up route," prosecutors may not have grounds to bring a case against the driver, he said.

"As tragic as it is, it doesn't necessarily make it a crime."

Police earlier said that no criminality was suspected because the driver had continued to collect garbage on his regular route.

Investigators have impounded the truck and are looking to determine if Ramirez was hit in the driver's blind spot.

They have video surveillance of before and after the crash, he said, but not during.