Felix Coss was killed in a crosswalk by an on-duty officer back in 2013 and his family is suing the NYPD and the city law department for essentially placing the blame on the deceased Spanish teacher for his own death.
The NYPD crash report from the incident says Officer Paula Medrano “had the green light” but doesn’t indicate that Coss crossed when the walk signal flashed and had the right of way. However, video footage of the crash shows that Coss waited for the signal to change before entering the road, according to StreetsBlog NYC
Despite the video footage and the fact that a witness reported seeing Medrano using a cell phone at the time of the accident, the Law Department claimed Coss was responsible for the collision because he “knew or should have known in the exercise of due/reasonable care of the risks and dangers incident to engaging in the activity alleged.”
Crossing the street is a very common activity that millions of people do daily. While it can be dangerous, the general expectation is that if a person walks within a crosswalk while they have an affirmative signal they are in the clear.
There are always exceptions, but how could Coss have possibly predicted that Officer Medrano — whose job is to enforce the very laws he was abiding by — would blow through the stoplight and strike him?
An excerpt from the official court filings states:
“Plantiff(s) voluntarily performed and engaged in the alleged activity and assumed the risk of the injuries and/or damages claimed. Plaintiff(s) failed to use all required, proper, appropriate and reasonable safety devices and/or equipment and failed to take all proper, appropriate and reasonable steps to assure his/her/their safety … Plaintiff(s)’ implied assumption of risk caused or contributed, in whole or in part [sic] to his/her/their injuries.”
While the NYPD acknowledged that Coss’s death was a “tragic, unfortunate accident,” they haven’t been very cooperative in the family’s attempts to get to the bottom of the incident.
They have refused to provide crucial materials such as witness statements and Officer Medrano’s phone records to determine whether or not she was using it at the time of the accident.
“It feels as though they really put up a stone wall to try and prevent any flow of information whatsoever,” said Andrew Levine, the Coss Family’s attorney.
While the family is not backing down from their lawsuit and will continue to fight against this flawed system that protects officials at the expense of citizens, they are disturbed by the preposterous notion that Coss — who evidently followed pedestrian rules — was responsible for his own death.
“They have things in here — that he should have known, that he was engaging in a dangerous activity,” said Levine. “He’s a pedestrian walking across the street with the walk signal.”
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