Footage released by the NYC Housing Authority reveals that the NYPD may have tried to cover up their role in the death of a Japanese student, who died last year after he was run over by a police car in Queens.
According to a report in Gothamist, Ryo Oyamada, a 24-year-old student living in Queensbridge, was walking home the night of February 21, 2013 when he was struck by a speeding NYPD patrol car. The NYPD claims that the car's flashing lights were on when the accident happened, though the department has refused to release any of the video footage from the incident.
NYPD representatives told Oyamada's father, the NY Times, and a local community meeting that Officer Ilardi was responding to a 911 call and had his flashing lights on while driving down 40th Avenue. Witnesses, however, told Gothamist and other media outlets the NYPD cruiser's flashing lights were not turned on until after the collision.
Oyamada's attorney, Steve Vaccaro obtained the footage from the NYC Housing Authority, which clearly shows that the lights on Officer Ilardi's patrol vehicle were not on at or around the time of the accident. Vaccarro spoke with Gothamist, alleging that the NYPD was attempting to cover up the incident:
"We surmise that when the NYPD came to [NYCHA] hours after the crash, NYCHA presumably said, 'Okay, here is our footage,' and then preserved an extract of what they supplied to the NYPD. Then, in the ordinary course of their business, they overwrote the video that preceded and follows that extract. We are in the process of confirming this."
Oyamada's family's lawsuit claims the NYPD lied about the events leading up to the collision as part of a cover-up. From Gothamist:
The Oyamada family lawsuit alleges that the NYPD purposefully destroyed evidence, failed to properly investigate the crash, and engaged in a "cover-up." Officers responding to the scene dispersed all eyewitnesses, failed to measure skid marks, and did not check Ilardi's cell phone records to determine if he was using his phone when he struck, according to the lawsuit. Court filings also suggest that Officer Ilardi had a poor driving record, and that the NYPD had failed to retrain or discipline him for it.
The surveillance camera footage can be watched here. The NYPD "has still not released the Collision Investigation Squad report on the crash, and no city official has ever apologized to the Oyamada family for their loss," according to Gothamist's report.
[Image via Gothamist]