Questions after aux. police van crash

July 5, 2011 3:14:44 PM PDT
There are a number of questions after an auxiliary police van slammed into a building in Chinatown last Friday.

Some of those questions focus on the age of the driver and his qualifications.

"We told the NYPD several times that something like this might happen and this could have been prevented," said William Rivera, President, A.P.S.B.A.

In that accident, an auxiliary police van pulling away from the curb near the 5th precinct suddenly shot across Elizabeth Street, mounted the sidewalk and pinned a pedestrian against a railing.

The 55-year-old man later died.

An auxiliary police chief and two other auxiliary officers reportedly were in the van at the time.

"Members should be tested for their proficiency," Rivera said.

As founder and president of the non-profit Auxiliary Police Supervisors Benevolent Association, William Rivera believes this accident raises serious questions.

"Was he signed in on duty? What duties was he doing at 11 in the morning? Was he doing department activity or personal activity?" Rivera asked.

Police officials say it's a tragic accident and the driver apparently lost control. He has not been charged. But those in the area at the time wonder.

"They want to go out and maybe they want to hit the break or they mistake and hit the gas and go all the way up to the curb and hit the man," said Matthew Liu, a Chinatown resident.

While police have not revealed the identity of the officer driving, Eyewitness News is learning he is 85-year-old Shuck Seid, a longtime civic leader and businessman in Chinatown.

"Usually in elderly people that's usually what happens. They slam on the gas thinking it's the brake and with the reaction time they panic and don't get off," Rivera said.

All the more reason, Rivera believes that auxiliary officers should be retested and requalified on a continuing basis.

He adds, his organization, is advocating and promoting safety issues for auxiliary officers and in a report told NYPD brass, "Auxiliary members in their 60's and 70's are not only on patrol but operating department vehicles."

"At 63-years-old, a regular police officer can no longer perform patrol tactics. Similar rules should pertain to auxiliary officers or at least continued testing after that," Rivera said.

Police say he has the right to drive the vehicle at his age and there are no motor vehicle restrictions against him because of his age.