An accident report obtained by the NY Daily News has detailed a hurriedly executed cover-up of a 2015 crash in Manhattan where the SUV transporting New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was driving the wrong way.
After the crash, de Blasio, in an appearance on “The Brian Lehrer Show,” expressed his displeasure at the recklessness of the drivers of the black NYPD Chevy Tahoe in which he sat in the backseat on the way to a walk-run event in Harlem. City Hall and the NYPD declined to comment on whether the mayor was in a hurry to the event at 8:15 a.m. on Aug. 22, 2015.
Daily News reported that NYPD Det. Edgar Robles was driving on the wrong side of E. 135th St as he approached Fifth Ave with lights and sirens blaring and exceeding speed limits. The car then plunged into a boiler truck that was making a legitimate left turn. The mayor and two other detectives were in the vehicle at the time.
Right after the accident, Robles drove the SUV to the other side of the street, a source close to the mayor’s detail said. De Blasio got out and walked away with members of his detail, according to Daily News, even though State law requires all occupants of vehicles involved in accidents to stay at the scene.
“I was making a left turn onto 5th Ave and he overtook me, and he hit me,” the 39-year-old truck driver, Marvin Woodruff, told the police, according to Daily News. But the commanding officer of the mayor’s executive protection unit, Howard Redmond, bounced the blame: “As I approached 5th Ave, I stopped and inched up to clear the intersection when he hit my rear passenger side of the (SUV),” he told police officers.
Redmond was outraged. Text messages obtained by the Daily News show that he immediately ordered the incident be covered up to avoid “optics” for his boss.
De Blasio was responsible for starting and advocating for the Vision Zero campaign, which seeks to reduce pedestrian and traffic deaths through stricter enforcement as well as urging motorists throughout the city to own up to their mistakes.
“As per CO [the commanding officer], no one is to know about this,” Sgt. Jerry Ioveno texted members of the unit, referring to Redmond. “Not even the other teams.”
“Redmond hell-bent that this doesn’t get out to anyone, we need to kill the story,” executive protection unit cop Jorge Bravo wrote.
“No one is to know; also, Eagle was not in the limo. Are we clear guys, please?” Ioveno said, using the code word limo for the NYPD Chevy Tahoe.
The car was out of service for two weeks, the source close to the executive protection unit said. State law prescribes any car damage exceeding $1,000 should be reported to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, but the agency confirmed that it had never received a report regarding the collision.
“I don’t remember that at all,” de Blasio said of the 2015 collision during an unrelated but extremely tumultuous press conference at Trump Tower last Monday. “When I’m in the car, I’m usually on the phone reading emails, reading papers. I don’t remember the specifics. I remember a very minor incident,” he said, according to gothamist.com.
On May 1, the Daily Mail reported that the NYPD had declined to release an internal accident report voluntarily and that it would take the department’s Freedom of Information Law unit a minimum of four months to come forward with the four-page accident report. Following the media coverage, the department provided the report on May 13.