AG James declines to charge NYPD officers who struck, killed pedestrian

Sonia Rincón Image
Tuesday, May 23, 2023
NY AG declines to charge officers who struck, killed pedestrian
Attorney General Letitia James declined to charged two NYPD officers who struck and killed Ronald Anthony Smith with a police van in April of 2022. Sonia Rincon has the details.

LOWER MANHATTAN, Manhattan (WABC) -- The family of a man struck and killed by NYPD officers more than a year ago is furious at the New York attorney general's decision not to prosecute the two officers.

Video from street cameras on that dark, rainy night last April, showed a police van running red lights and speeding on Eastern Parkway, before ultimately striking a man standing in the median and carrying him 35 feet on the hood.

The crash happened in Crown Heights, Brooklyn as that NYPD van was transporting prisoners to central booking.

At the time, police said the victim, 54-year-old Ronald Anthony Smith, was homeless, but his sister says he wasn't.

"Everything that they did wrong led to the death of Ronald Anthony Smith and somebody should have to pay for that," Julie Floyd said.

On Monday night, the family of Smith and their attorneys met with Attorney General Letitia James at her office to learn her decision on the case. They emerged disappointed.

"Even though they broke departmental guidelines, even though Ronald Anthony Smith is dead, the attorney general's office is still claiming that they cannot without a reasonable doubt prosecute these officers," said Loyda Colon of the Justice Committee.

The guidelines in question had to do with the type of vehicle they were using, not how fast it was going. The speeding and travel in non-vehicular lanes were permitted under the circumstances.

The attorney general's office also looked at the officer's body camera footage and issued a 128-page report and a statement saying in part:

"After an exhaustive examination of the facts surrounding this incident, it was determined that Mr. Smith's death was a horrible and unintentional tragedy."

The attorney's general's office released recommendations to prevent future incidents similar to this one. Those recommendations for the NYPD include:

- Exclude the transportation of individuals in custody as an emergency operation unless authorized by a supervisor;

- Require a higher standard of safety and security for the transportation of individuals in custody and appropriately equip officers for the task; and

- Hold officers to the same standards as civilians and breath-test them as quickly as practicable after a serious motor vehicle collision.

"We all watch the police department run red lights; we watch them throw lights and sirens although none of the traffic laws apply to them. They do. This recklessness cost a man his life," family attorney David Rankin said.

These were not the recommendations Smith's family members were hoping for. They're now hoping the Civilian Complaint Review Board recommends the officers be fired.


* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* More Manhattan news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.