Borough President Adams: Scofflaw drivers who kill should be charged with manslaughter

Scofflaws who drive with a suspended license — or who don’t have one at all — should automatically be charged with vehicular manslaughter when they run down other people with their cars or trucks, and not be let off with just a slap on the wrist, Borough President Adams proclaimed this week.

Speaking on Brooklyn Paper Radio, Adams, a retired police officer, told host and Brooklyn Paper editor-in-chief Vince DiMiceli that drivers often get the benefit of the doubt when traffic accidents end with deaths, and law-enforcement agencies must do a better job holding them accountable for their actions.

“A vehicle in the hands of a the wrong person is a dangerous weapon and it takes the lives of innocent people,” Adams said. “If you cause death or physical injury to someone, you need to be held accountable.”

Adams added that drivers who leave the scene of an accident should be considered drunk by default — surmising that the reason they left was to give themselves time to sober up before dealing with police.

“It’s a calculated decision,” he said. “If they leave the scene, we should treat them as if they were intoxicated.”

The topic came up as part of a broader conversation about unlicensed motorist Philip Monfoletto, who bragged about being above the law on social media, then hit and killed 13-year-old cyclist Kevin Flores while driving an oil truck on Jan. 26. Monfoletto remained at the scene after the accident and was cited by police — something that didn’t happen last July when Action Carting driver Jose Nunez, driving without the proper license, struck and killed cyclist Neftaly Ramirez in Greenpoint. In that case, Nunez did not stick around, and was only hit with a ticket for his license infraction on Nov. 10. No other charges were filed.

DiMiceli pointed out that police handled the release of information about both cases differently — never giving out Nunez’s name while wasting no time in releasing Monfoletto’s. Adams said that has to change as well.

“Police should treat every incident the same way,” he said.

And Brooklyn Paper deputy editor Anthony Rotunno, who again joined DiMiceli for the broadcast, asked why companies that employ non- or improperly licensed drivers aren’t held more accountable for their roles in the fatal collisions.

“I think that’s a good point,” Adams said. “We need to make sure that the owners of companies are doing what they have to do to ensure their drivers are safe and that people on the roads are safe in the process.”

In the action-packed show, the beep also talked about his hope that Amazon owner Jeff Bezos opens a second corporate office in Brooklyn, his plans to retrofit a bus that will provide showers and bathrooms for the boro’s homeless, and his belief that it is better to meet with residents at open houses instead of putting on a staged “State of the Borough” address.

So tune in now and hear everything Adams had to say.

Brooklyn Paper Radio is recorded and podcast live every Tuesday at 4:30 pm — for your convenience — from our studio in America’s Downtown and can be found, as always, on BrooklynPaper.com, on iTunes, and of course, on Stitcher.

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