The saga of the NYPD’s flawed investigation into the death of cyclist Mathieu Lefevre last fall was already full of stupefying examples of incompetence and apparent untruth.
It took a full two months for the NYPD to even go looking for video footage of the accident, and even then only at the prompting of Lefevre’s family’s lawyer, Steve Vaccaro.
That footage was finally provided to the family on January 20, along with official NYPD descriptions of what the videos contained. The videos and descriptions revealed that the police’s prior statement –that Lefevre was killed after running a red light — was untrue.
But that’s not the end of it. Today the Lefevre family released some of the video footage, and there’s a problem: the official descriptions of the footage don’t match the contents of the videos at all.
Earlier this month we showed you one official description of the video, which described it as showing the cyclist struck by the passenger side of the truck and thrown into the roadway:
There’s also another official police description of what the footage shows, which claims “the bicycles rode directly into the side of the truck as it made the right turn:”
But the footage, provided to the family at the same time as these reports, doesn’t match the descriptions at all. The video files as provided to the Lefevre’s were initially upside down and reversed, but Streetsblog has corrected copies of the videos.
In fact, the videos show very little. The crane truck pulls up to the intersection and pulls out. A cyclist appears for a single frame in one of the videos, but neither clip shows the collision at all.
(There are two other videos that the Lefevre family has not released because of their sensitive nature, but Vaccaro says they show only the aftermath of the accident, not the crash itself.)
Vaccaro says the Lefevre family is baffled by the disconnect.
“What we have seen in this case are mistakes and errors throughout. Could there have been other videos that were somehow lost or misplaced? I don’t know. We’re trying to find that out.”
To clear up any possible confusion, Vaccaro asked the NYPD if he could come review their copies of the videos to make sure they were looking at the same thing. The NYPD refused. So last Tuesday Vaccaro sent the police a letter, asking for written confirmation that the videos were “true and accurate copies of the originals.” The police are required by law to provide this certification when asked for it, but they never wrote back. On Friday Vaccaro wrote again, but he still hasn’t heard anything.
We asked the NYPD for comment, but so far they haven’t responded to us either.
“The reason the Lefevre family authorized the release of these videos is that they’re suddenly back in the same place they were months ago, waiting for some explanation of what actually happened,” Vaccaro said.
The next hearing in the Lefevre case is scheduled for February 14. Until then, Vaccaro said, the family is still waiting for an answer.
“We’re scratching our heads. We want people to know that there is this unsolved mystery still in the Lefevre case, created in part by the NYPD’s fanciful description of the videos.”