Ramapo police protected a Peekskill police officer from criminal charges after he ran down two yeshiva students on Route 202 while allegedly speeding and trying to pass another car on the left, a notice of claim filed by the surviving student alleges.
The crash seriously injured that student, 19-year-old David Maldanado, and killed his friend Marcos Tawil, 17, of Argentina.
The allegations which the Ramapo police chief denies – are part of a legal document that must be filed with a municipality prior to commencing a civil lawsuit.
The newspaper is awaiting the town’s decision on whether to release copies of the police investigative reports.
Ramapo police recently announced they filed traffic tickets against Peekskill Police Officer Jonathan Mosquera, who was heading to work at 11:50 p.m. Sept. 7 at the time the fatal crash occurred.
Maldanado and Tawil were standing on the grass near the driveway to Yeshivat Tiferet Tora at 996 Route 202. The son of the school’s operator was turning his Honda left into the driveway when Mosquera went to pass him and Mosquera’s Lexus careened off his car’s driver’s side into the two students then rolled over, police said.
The 24-year-old officer lives in Suffern and was running late for his night shift with the Peekskill Police Department.
Tawil was killed. According to the legal notice, Maldanado suffered a broken left ankle, fractured skull, lacerated spleen, injured right knee and back. He required ankle and knee surgery.
The Ramapo police crash investigation determined criminal charges were not warranted against Mosquera, as he had no criminal intent.
Police issued the officer summonses accusing him of speeding, making an unsafe lane change, and improper passing. Chief Brad Weidel said the Rockland district attorney agreed with the determination.
Police also ticketed the other driver, alleging he made an unsafe lane change and an improper left turn.
Maldanado’s legal notice claims that Mosquera was driving recklessly. It also says Ramapo police investigators acted negligently in the investigation, collecting evidence and failing to interview all witnesses in an effort to protect Mosquera and the Peekskill Police Department from legal action.
The claim states the police also intimidated or tried to intimidate at least one witness, waking up an unnamed student at 3 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. Sept. 8 and “insisted that a certain and inaccurate statement be given.” The statement was taken over the objection of school staff, the claim states.
“It also is claimed that the Town of Ramapo Police Department and its officers and/or detectives may have intentionally thwarted and/or prejudiced the investigation and/or covered and/or distorted and/or withheld evidence, and failed to and/or refused to interview many eye witnesses to the accident,” the claims states.
Weidel said he stands behind the department’s investigation.
He denied that investigators “intentionally downplayed criminal conduct on the part of Mr. Mosquera to protect him as he was an off-duty police officer.”
“While this accusation is without merit, any assertion of impropriety concerning our department is taken very seriously,” Weidel said. “Our investigative findings in this case are based on evidence, including numerous interviews. Although some may disagree with our findings given the emotions this tragedy has engendered, I stand by them firmly.”
By Steve Lieberman – lohud.com