Roberto Mercado, whose SUV hit and killed Upper West Sider Jean Chambers on July 10, 2014 at 95th street and West End Avenue, was convicted last week of criminally negligent homicide. The conviction comes as a surprise given that no charges had been filed for months after the incident, and there was no indication that charges were forthcoming despite video footage that seemed to show Mercado taking an extremely sharp turn into opposite-direction traffic and failing to yield to Chambers.
Streetsblog pulled more info about Mercado’s actions from court documents.
“I killed her,” Mercado told police, according to court documents. “I killed her. I was going eastbound and made a left. I thought I had a flat, people were yelling and pointing. I stopped.”
Court documents say that when police asked Mercado why he was driving north in the southbound lane, he replied, “I thought I was in the right lane.”
Drivers are rarely charged in New York when they injure pedestrians, even when the driver is shown to be at fault. Under the mayor’s Vision Zero plan, enforcement appears to be picking up somewhat.
“No conviction will bring Jean back,” Jean’s husband John Chambers, told DNAinfo. “I always expected that justice would prevail,” he said, adding, “I don’t think I’ll ever put this behind me.”
After the crash, the Department of Transportation re-engineered West End Avenue, adding a pedestrian island in the middle of West End at 95th to force drivers to take wider turns and give pedestrians refuge.
Criminally negligent homicide carries a maximum sentence of four years and a minimum of probation with no jail. Sentencing is set for January 5, 2016.