A 67-year-old woman died, her 8-year-old grandson was clinging to life and three other people were hurt after the driver of a suspected stolen car fleeing police slammed into them in Brooklyn Saturday, police said.
Mayor Adams—who lives blocks from the Bedford-Stuyvesant crash scene—appeared with an NYPD commander at a late-night news conference and laid blame for the incident on New York’s bail reform laws.
“We are feeding it over and over again,” Adams said. “A small number of bad people think they can do bad things and get out of jail because we have a bad criminal justice system. When are we going to connect the dots?”
The incident began around 7:10 pm when a sergeant and two police officers at Chauncey St. and Ralph Ave. pulled over a car with mismatched license plates they believed to be stolen, cops said.
As the 81st Precinct officers walked up to the vehicle, the driver took off at a “very high rate of speed,” NYPD Assistant Chief Judith Harrison said at the news conference.
The car sped up Ralph Ave. and struck a cyclist and two pedestrians at Macon St. before continuing on and slamming into other pedestrians at the corner of Halsey St., Harrison said.
“The video I observed is chilling for anyone who lives in this community…. I live blocks from here. I patronize these stores These are my neighbors,” said Adams.
“No one deserves to walk across the street with their grandchild and be struck.”
Halsey St. is about a third of a mile from the point on Ralph Ave. where the police officers stopped the car. It was unclear if the officers pursued the car after it sped off. NYPD rules generally bar officers from engaging in high-speed chases.
Police took one person of interest into custody who is being “thoroughly interviewed,” Harrison said. But another suspect in the case got away, she said.
There were no immediate charges against the person in custody, and police are still looking for another man involved in the crash, police said.
“We will catch the people responsible,” Adams vowed. “Without even knowing who they are, I guarantee you they have a long criminal record.”
Business owner Noah Meares, who was hosting a pop-up shop on the block where the grandmother was struck, heard “a loud noise” from the horrific crash.
“I looked up and saw a lady fly on the air,” said Meares, 33. “When I realized she got hit, I ran inside…and yelled for someone to call 911.”
He saw the car as it sped away.
Meares’ colleague, a registered nurse, ran to help the injured pedestrians.
When medics arrived, the 67-year-old woman was already dead, police said.
“I was walking and I saw a lady on the floor not moving, not responding,” said Lasinda Matthews 36. “I wasn’t able to see her face. She was lying dead on the street.”
An employee at BLM Natural Deli on the corner watched as terrified bystanders poured into the store after the crash.
“There were a lot of people in the store scared and crying,” said the man, who asked not to be named. “I saw a little boy in the street lying down. He didn’t look good.”
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The 8-year-old boy was in critical condition at Maimonides Medical Center Saturday evening where he was “clinging to life,” police said.
The other victims were taken to area hospitals where they are expected to recover.
The owner of a nearby barber shop said a traffic light was installed near the scene of the crash several years ago in an attempt to slow down traffic on the busy stretch.
“This is very fast paced area traffic,” said Dushaun Crawford, 53. “It’s an avenue, it’s wide, and people speed.”
Reports of grand larceny auto — better known as car theft — are up 84% percent in the 81st Precinct this year. As of last Sunday, the precinct had counted 68 because thefts to date in 2022, up from 37 in the same period of 2021.
Adams said frustrated cops are hamstrung by the fact that by itself, judges are generally not allowed to impose bail in grand larceny auto cases.
“We are inviting innocent people to die in this city,” Adams said of Saturday’s crash. “The actions they did up until hitting innocent people is not a bailable offense, no matter how many times they do it.”