Cyclist Faces ‘Serious’ Charges From Same DA Who Lets Deadly Drivers Off The Hook
The cyclist who allegedly fatally struck a woman in Manhattan earlier this year has been arrested and charged with second-degree reckless endangerment.
Dameon Doward, 41, was biking through Midtown on April 24th when he allegedly ran a red light and hit Donna Sturm in a crosswalk at West 57th Street. The 67-year-old pedestrian fractured her skull and fell into a coma. She was pronounced dead two weeks later.
Doward remained at the scene after striking Sturm, and was not immediately charged. Initial reports indicated that Doward’s brakes were not working at the time of the crash. On Wednesday, police announced that they’d arrested the cyclist. He faces up to a year in jail for the reckless endangerment charge.
“Donna Sturm was a vibrant, energetic and wonderful woman who died as a result of carelessness and negligence,” Sturm’s family said in a statement to CBS following the crash. “She died because a bicyclist completely disregarded the law. She was crossing a street, in the crosswalk, with the light in her favor when she was struck.”
Steve Vaccaro, an attorney who frequently represents cyclists, said he was surprised by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s decision to bring the top-level misdemeanor against the cyclist, given the lack of consequences for motorists in similar incidents.
“This guy is facing serious consequences for his bad choice, and that’s how it should be,” Vaccaro told Gothamist. “But is this the same Cy Vance who refused to to bring criminal charges against the cab driver who killed 9-year-old Cooper Stock?”
Vance and other NYC district attorneys have been frequently criticized by safe streets activists who echo Vaccaro’s complaint. In 2014, a plea deal with Vance resulted in an unlicensed driver receiving a $400 fine after striking and killing a woman crossing an Upper East Side street. Earlier this year, an oil truck driver who fatally struck a cyclist in Manhattan and left the scene faced only a potential penalty of a $500 fine and 30 days in jail from misdemeanor charges brought by Vance.
“In my work, I see cyclists getting consequences for making bad decisions while operating a bicycle,” he continued. “And then I see impunity when motorists cause harm to cyclists, whether it’s negligently, recklessly or even intentionally in a road rage incident.”
Along with two other state prosecutors, Vance recently proposed a bill that would make it easier to criminally charge motorists who kill cyclists, calling the current laws “fundamentally broken.” In the past, he has cited the so-called “rule of two,” which prosecutors in New York have argued requires two misdemeanors to charge motorists who kill people with criminal negligence.
Vaccaro noted that it did not appear that the cyclist’s action met that standard, which is frequently used as justification for letting killer drivers walk free. “Somehow Vance has the tools he needs to get it right on this cyclist and prosecute him as a criminal,” the attorney said. “I’m trying to understand. There has to be a uniform standard.”
A spokesperson for D.A. Vance did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but said that a criminal complaint would be provided following an arraignment this afternoon. We’ll update as we learn more.