Husband of crash victim slams police over botched investigation

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By Noah Hurowitz in the Brooklyn Paper

Police need to do a better job investigating drivers who mow down pedestrians, says the husband of a woman who was killed by an unlicensed — and possibly drunk — driver on a Clinton Hill street in 2011 who lashed out at the cops who bungled the examination of her death so badly her alleged killer was never brought to trial.

Jake Stevens damned police on Sunday during a memorial service for Clara Heyworth at the site of her death at the age of 28, calling them out for not ensuring the driver who killed ever saw a day behind bars.

“F— the police,” Stevens said while standing at the corner of Dekalb and Vanderbilt avenues, where Heyworth was run down as he watched helplessly. “There has not been, and there will never be, ever, any justice for Clara.”

The widower called on cops to do a better job investigating traffic deaths and ensuring future traffic deaths get the attention they deserve.

“We are here for those that come after us, not for those we lost,” he said.

Heyworth died in 2011 after a driver struck her as she crossed the intersection. A Breathalyzer test administered at the scene showed the driver — who only had a learner’s permit — had been drinking, but he refused further tests and a judge tossed the results when it was learned police from the 88th Precinct had not calibrated the testing kit in four years, according to a report in Gothamist at the time.

The police further dropped the ball, Stevens accused, by failing to send the Accident Investigation Squad to the scene until three days after the crash. Because of the weak investigation, the district attorney did not press charges and the driver walked.

“The police failed to investigate her death, the D.A. failed to prosecute,” he said. “In doing so, they failed all of us.”

Loved ones gathered at the intersection once again called for increased regulations to hold killer drivers accountable for their actions. Activists painted a pair of rose-studded angel wings on the pavement.

Stevens has filed a civil suit against the driver.

The memorial was organized by Right of Way, a road safety group that calls attention to bike and pedestrian deaths and lobbies for increased penalties for reckless motorists.

In the past the group would spray paint white body outlines at the site of pedestrian fatalities to call attention to what they criticized as a lack of investigation of such deaths. An organizer said they have shifted to making memorials less confrontational since Mayor DeBlasio began taking road safety more seriously with his so-called “Vision Zero” initiative, which aims to end pedestrian fatalities in the city but, he said, there is still a long way to go.

“When police do a terrible job of an investigation they screw over the victims and their families all over again,” said road safety activist Keegan Stephan, who helped paint the memorial.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at nhurowitz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz

 

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