NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James’ Office of Special Investigation (OSI) Thursday released its report on the death of Delroy Morris in Brooklyn. Following a thorough investigation, including review of security camera videos, radio transmissions, eyewitness accounts, and crash reconstruction analysis, OSI concluded that criminal charges are not warranted in this case.
On the night of July 25, 2020, two officers with the New York City Police Department (NYPD) responded to a 911 call reporting a man had been shot at the intersection of Wythe Avenue and Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
The officers were driving westbound on Metropolitan Avenue in a marked NYPD vehicle with sirens and lights on. The officer driving the vehicle slowed down as he approached Driggs Avenue before driving through a steady red light, which is permitted under New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Laws when police officers are responding to an emergency. While crossing the intersection, the vehicle struck Mr. Morris, who was traveling south on Driggs Avenue on a motorcycle. Mr. Morris was thrown from the motorcycle, which landed underneath a car.
Morris was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead in the early morning hours of July 26, 2022.
The NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad (CIS) reconstructed the collision and determined that the NYPD officer driving the vehicle was driving about 23 MPH, tapped the brakes before entering the intersection, and was not impaired. The officer submitted to an alcohol test following the incident, which was negative. The CIS determined that Mr. Morris was traveling between 37 and 49 MPH before the collision.
Under New York law, proving criminally negligent homicide requires establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that a person failed to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that death would occur; that the failure to perceive the risk was a gross deviation from a reasonable person’s standard of care; and that the person engaged in blameworthy conduct. In this case, there is no evidence that the officer was engaging in unnecessarily risky behavior, nor that he was speeding or impaired, and therefore OSI concluded that criminal charges could not be pursued against the officer.
The NYPD’s patrol guide requires that if qualified to do so, the patrol supervisor must administer an alcohol test to any police officer involved in a collision that results in a death. The patrol supervisor who arrived at the scene minutes after the crash was not qualified to administer the test to the officer who was driving, so the officer was not breath-tested until two hours later, when CIS arrived. While there is no evidence the officer in question was impaired or intoxicated, OSI recommends that all patrol supervisors be trained in administering alcohol breath tests to avoid similar delays in the future.
The OSI also recommends that the NYPD require any officer whose job responsibilities include operating NYPD vehicles to requalify for emergency vehicle operator certification every five years.