Cab driver Koffi Komlani was charged with “failure to exercise due care” in the January crash that killed 9-year-old Cooper Stock, who was crossing West End Avenue at West 97th with his father when he was hit. Cooper had the walk light, but Komlani plowed into him anyway, according to police. The charge is an infraction, not a criminal charge as street safety activists have called for.
Komlani was initially charged with failure to yield, a traffic infraction that results in points on your license, but he didn’t have his license taken away until months later. “Komlani, 53, of upstate Harriman, was a probationary hack who’d been on the road less than a year when the Jan. 10 crash occurred. The Taxi & Limousine Commission didn’t renew his license when it expired July 5,” the Daily News reported.
The tragedy inspired “Cooper’s Law,” which causes cab drivers to have their licenses suspended, and potentially revoked, if they break the law, hit someone and cause serious injuries.
District Attorney Cyrus Vance never explained his decision not to charge Komlani and the charges come as a surprise — in fact, a few months ago he told Stock’s family that the driver wouldn’t be charged. A spokesman for the DA’s office did not explain the reason behind the delay, but sent the following description of the charge:
On 10/7/14, Komlani was charged with 1 count of VTL 1146(c)(1) (Failure of a driver to exercise due care – serious physical injury). The next court date is 12/4 for control (for your info purposes, “control” is a blanket term encompassing any pre-trial matter, for a defendant to file motions or the judge to receive a status update on the case etc).
The defendant was released on his own recognizance. The judge at arraignment suspended the defendant’s license during the pendency of the criminal case. NOTE: VTL 1146(c)(1) is a traffic infraction. The maximum is 15 days jail and $750 fine with a license suspension and the minimum is no penalty – in the end, that is up to the judge.
Dana Lerner, Cooper’s mom, was dissatisfied with the charge, she told us.
“It is an insult to my sons memory that this driver was charged with failure to exercise due care. he did not yield, he did not bother to notice a 6 foot 3 inch man in front of him. he could have put his brakes on after he hit them. why did he run my son over??? He was never drug tested. The DA’s office never interviewed him. the investigation was incomplete in my opinion. He was driving recklessly and was not paying attention to what he was doing. the punishment does not fit the crime.”
The DA’s office did not respond to her criticism.