On Feb. 21, 2013, Ryo Oyamada, a student at the time, was “struck and killed by a police car while crossing 40th Ave. between 10th and 11th streets in Long Island City.” Now, after all this time, his family and the city have agreed to “settle their federal lawsuit” for $500,000.
Millions of people cross the streets of our busy cities each day, and many do so without a thought that such a simple act might result in tragedy. Certainly, when 24-year-old Ryo Oyamada decided to cross a street in Long Island he wasn’t thinking that it might be the last thing he ever did. Unfortunately and tragically, it was. On Feb. 21, 2013, Oyamada, a student at the time, was “struck and killed by an NYPD police car while crossing 40th Ave. between 10th and 11th streets in Long Island City.” Now, after all this time, his family and the city have agreed to “settle their federal lawsuit” for $500,000.
In response to the settlement, the family issued the following statement:
“Our family feels that there is no way to hold the NYPD accountable through the court system. After over four years, we have decided with heavy hearts to accept a settlement of our lawsuit against the city for his death. For over four years, our family has struggled through language barriers and distance to try to learn the truth of what happened to Ryo and to hold the NYPD accountable for killing him…We live in Germany and Japan, and have made countless trips to New York City to identify Ryo’s mangled body, attend court conferences and a DMV hearing to find out the truth of what happened to Ryo and demand justice.”
But the family wasn’t completely on their own in their quest to discover what happened to their son. According to the family’s lawyer, a “video bolstered the family’s claim that the police department covered up the circumstances of the crash.” While law enforcement officials claimed the driver, “identified in the lawsuit as Officer Darren Ilardi, was responding to an emergency and had the cruiser’s top lights activated,” video evidence “showed a police car pass by moments before Oyamada was struck without flashing lights.”
In response to the video evidence, Ilardi admitted in a 2015 hearing that he “cut the lights off to avoid revealing his position to a potential suspect.”
However, Steve Vaccaro, the family’s lawyer, accused “the officers who came to the scene of dispersing witnesses, failing to measure skid marks or preserve video recordings, and failing to check whether Ilardi was using his cellphone.”
Additionally, after all this time, an accident reconstruction report was finally prepared on May 25th that suggested “the police cruiser was going nearly 65 mph as it approached Oyamada, and likely was going 31 mph when it hit him.”
Because of the report’s findings, the family of Oyamada believes “Officer Darren Ilardi should be held accountable for killing Ryo, as he sped recklessly next to public housing where children, families, and pedestrians are always walking.”