A woman who was severely injured in a deadly 2019 two-car crash involving an allegedly intoxicated NYPD cop is suing the city in federal court for failing to make safety improvements on the street where the crash occurred, according to court filings.
Nia Jasmine Reynolds was a passenger in a 2012 Mazda 6 driven by Kwesi Vidale when veteran officer Rohan Shaw, 47, rammed his 2019 Nissan GT-R into the side of the vehicle — severely injuring Reynold and killing her 21-year-old friend Joanna Dixon.
Vidale, also known as Shawn White, allegedly blew through a stop sign on Foster Avenue at East 55th Street immediately before the crash, and fled the scene before cops arrived. But the city knew of reports of speeding and crashes on the strip and should have put in safety measures, Reynolds charged in a civil rights suit filed Wednesday.
The city “could have implemented roadway design changes in the form of
traffic calming measures to deter speeding,” the suit said, and “failed to conduct a study of whether traffic calming measures were appropriate.”
The area of Foster Avenue in question — between Kings Highway and Ralph Avenue — is 95 percent black, according to the suit, which claims 124 people have died in the strip “in recent years.”
NYPD figures show two traffic deaths on Foster since 2011, and close to 100 injuries.
“Foster Avenue is a commercial mixed-use area. there’s a lot of speeding, a lot of car accidents and a significant amount of deaths over the last few ears,” said Reynolds’ lawyer Eric Sanders. “Police can’t be everywhere. You have to implement traffic calming devices, because that is going to reduce speed more than a police officer or a camera.”
Shaw, who was not seriously injured, was arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, reckless driving, speeding and driving while ability impaired, cops said. Those charges were later walked back due to “insufficient evidence” — which Reynolds alleges occurred because cops failed to properly calibrate the breathalyzer used immediately after the crash.
Reynolds is suing both Shaw and Vidale for negligence and Shaw for punitive damage, and the city for failing to redesign the street and obstruction of justice.
“He’ll probably never be prosecuted for the death of Joanna Dixon and for the injuries he caused my client,” said Sanders.
NYPD declined to comment on the officer’s current employment status.
“The NYPD will review the lawsuit if and when we are served,” said spokeswoman Sgt. Jessica McRorie.
The NYPD’s alleged flubbing of the case against one of its own comes as Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” campaign to end traffic deaths has floundered — this past summer marked New York City’s deadliest for traffic fatalities since he took office in 2014, according to a recent report.
The city Law Department did not immediately return a request for comment.
Kwesi could not be reached for comment.
Additional reporting by Craig McCarthy