Grieving Mother on Charges Against Cab Driver: 'It's a Traffic Violation for Killing a Child'
By now, 10 months on, the details of Cooper Stock's death are well-known: The nine-year-old was in the crosswalk, under the signal, holding his father's hand when he was run down by a cab driver a little after 8:45 p.m. on Friday, January 10, 2014.
Partly because of the heartbreaking circumstances and partly because of the timing -- shortly before Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an ambitious new initiative to combat pedestrian deaths in New York City -- the story has been repeated in countless articles since.
On Thursday the Daily News reported the driver had finally been arrested earlier this month -- but that's not exactly true.
"There is this rumor out there that he is being charged criminally. He is not being charged criminally," says Stock's mother, Dana Lerner.
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A spokesman for the Manhattan District Attorney's office confirmed that Koffi Komlani was arraigned for "failure to exercise due care," a traffic infraction, in criminal court on October 7, and that his driver's license was suspended at that arraignment.
It's highly unusual for a traffic infraction to be heard in criminal court, but it is possible that the high-nature profile of the case compelled the D.A.'s office to take that extra step.
"I think they are doing it as a way to try and step it up a little bit," Lerner says, though she remains disappointed that the D.A.'s office has not pursued more serious charges against Komlani. "It's irrelevant. It's a traffic violation for killing a child."
In the months after her son's death, Lerner lobbied the New York City Council to pass "Cooper's Law," a new provision mandating that the Taxi and Limousine Commission immediately revoke the license of any taxi driver who kills or seriously injures a pedestrian while breaking a traffic law.
Failure to exercise due care carries a maximum penalty of 15 days in jail and a $750 fine. The minimum penalty is nothing. Komlani pleaded not guilty at the October 7 arraignment. His next court appearance is set for December 4.
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