Tabernacle damaged by out-of-control NYPD SUV gets payment thanks to 7 On Your Side

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A local house of worship was reduced to rubble after a police SUV smashed through its tabernacle wall.

Fortunately, nobody was seriously injured. Only the church's finances were scarred when more than a year after the accident, a big buck claim with the city hasn't been paid.

The Judah Tabernacle usually looked beautiful and packed with parishioners.

But in March of 2020 after 3 a.m. on a Sunday morning, it was a different scene in their sanctuary.

"I couldn't believe that this happened," said Joniel Edwards, a pastor.

A two-ton NYPD SUV swerved off the street and plowed through the wall of their tabernacle, at the exact spot where churchgoers normally worship.

If the accident had happened eight hours later, the pews would've been filled with congregants.

The Judah Tabernacle was celebrating its eighth anniversary.

"The mercy of God," Jonah said. "That they weren't hurt."

But more than a year after the accident, after spending more than $80,000 of their own savings and congregants contributions to repair their church, they haven't gotten any payment from the city.

"Not a dime," Edwards said.

After the accident, co-pastors Ariel and Johah Edwards, along with their daughter Joniel, filed an insurance claim

"The insurance company explained to us that we're not covered for that kind of damage," they said.

So within the 90-day window in June of 2020, they filed a claim with the city comptroller's office. The first big delay was that there was no police report.

"Without that could you even put in for a claim?" 7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda asked.

"Initially I was waiting for the police report, but I decided to file anyway," Joniel Edwards said.

Joniel says the NYPD finally received the report nine months after the accident.

"We didn't get the police report until December," she said.

They sent it to the comptroller's office, but nearly a year after filing, their claim is going nowhere.

"It's been emotionally draining and exhausting," Joniel Edwards said.

As a last resort, the pastors asked a lawyer to help. His advice was to call 7 On Your Side.

"And we don't charge, we just want you to put in a good word upstairs," Pineda said.

So last spring, 7 On Your Side asked the city to resurrect the claim.

Last May, the church settled with the comptroller who stated it did, "Everything in our power to resolve it as soon as possible, despite delays outside of our control." They expedited a check for the full amount of the settlement, $62,000.

And that's just what the church received just days ago.

"Thanks to God and Nina!" the Edwards said.

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