Family defends MTA bus driver charged in deadly Brooklyn hit and run

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The MTA bus driver charged with running over a 70-year old woman in Brooklyn and leaving the scene was in court Wednesday.

Prosecutors say Paul Roper took off after hitting the woman, leaving her to die in the street.

Roper's family says he is not the monster he is being made out to be, that he did not know he had hit and killed Carol Bell.

The judge set bail at $25,000.

The driver's wife and others are still shocked by what's happening.

"He's not a bad person, it's awful, I just want him to come home," said the suspect's brother-in-law, Miguel Rodriguez.

It was an emotional breaking point as Paul Roper's family gathered outside the courthouse.

Inside Roper faced a judge for the first time.

Police say the 48-year-old driver hit Bell as she crossed the street, killing her, and then took off.

"If he knew it was a person I know he would have stopped. You have to understand, he's driving a big bus, it's a lot of weight, he probably thought it was trash," said Roper's sister-in-law, Deione Gray.

But it wasn't. Carol Bell was a mother trying to turn her life around, living at a women's shelter up the block from where she was killed.

It was just after 6 in the morning Tuesday. Roper was ending his shift, heading back to the garage.

Surveillance video shows he made a left onto Fulton. Carol had just crossed the double yellow line, when police say Roper plowed into her, and hit her with the front bumper.

He stopped for less than 5 seconds, never got out of the bus to check what was going on, then he pulled away, authorities say.

When he got back to the depot, investigators were waiting. He called his wife Sonia.

"He just said it was an accident, he didn't know what happened. I said are you OK? He said they found blood on the wheels and that was it," said Sonia.

The family says he's being unfairly portrayed as a monster in what is a devastating situation for everyone.

"My sympathy goes out to her family, extremely, but I know he didn't do this to hurt anyone, I believe he's innocent," said Sonia Roper.

"With a video like this people rush to judgment," said defense attorney Clifford Levin. "I think it would be great to let the presumption of innocence work itself out."

Roper is due back in court Nov. 9th.
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