VICE News is closely watching policing in America. Check out the Officer Involved blog here**_.**_
Two New York City police officers swore in written statements that Ronald Herrera wiped out on his motorcycle as he tried to overtake their patrol car in the Bronx on October 27, 2012. The accident left Herrera dead, and his passenger, Leonel Cuevas, with brain damage.
But surveillance video of the incident recently released by investigators from the New York Police Department's Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) tells a different story — one where the patrol car rear-ends Herrera's motorcycle during a high-speed car chase, the New York Daily News reported.
The officers never mentioned the chase in their sworn statements, maintaining that Herrera suddenly swerved in front of their vehicle. The video reportedly contradicts those claims.
"It's appalling and disgraceful that the officers are clearly not telling the truth," Scott Rynecki, an attorney representing Herrera's family, told the Daily News. The family is suing both the city and police department.
"They were chasing a guy for a traffic infraction, not a felony, and the video clearly depicts the officers were violating the patrol guide by conducting an unsafe pursuit," Rynecki added.
According to the _Daily News_report, the NYPD did not punish the two female officers involved, Sabrina Alicea, the driver, and Walkiria Velez, even though both failed to tell dispatchers about the car chase or enter it in their journal logs.
The IAB's Sgt. Robert Fitzsimmons maintained that the officers did not commit a "severe violation," and instead blamed Herrera for the incident.
"I believe it was a safe pursuit," Fitzsimmons said. "I believe it was a culpability of the dirt bike rider and also the double-parked vehicles."
New York City's Civilian Complaint Review Board released a report last month that found an increase in instances where cops allegedly lied or submitted a false statement. The report found 26 cases where cops possibly made false official statements in 2014, double the number recorded in 2013. Overall, however, civilians filed fewer complaints against NYPD officers in 2014 compared to the previous year, according to the report.
Follow VICE News on Twitter: @vicenews
Photo via Wikimedia Commons