So now we know: the penalty for killing a 9-year-old boy holding his father’s hand on the streets of Manhattan is ... a traffic ticket.
This week’s criminal-court decision in the case of Cooper Stock, who was struck by a taxi on the Upper West Side last year, is but the latest in a string of injustices when it comes to traffic deaths in the city. Time and again, drivers who are clearly at fault are let off with little or no penalty, even when their actions result in the death of someone else. In Stock’s case, the boy and his father were crossing West End Avenue, with the light, when a taxi made a speeding left turn, hitting them in the crosswalk. Even though the court determined that the pedestrians in this case clearly had the right of way, the judge, Erika Edwards, determined it was “not a crime.”
“It goes without saying that what happened here today does not even begin to bring justice in the death of my son, Cooper Stock,” Dr. Richard Stock and his wife, Dana Lerner, said in a joint statement read at the hearing. “Giving this man a traffic ticket for killing my son is an insult to us and to Cooper’s memory. Is a life worth nothing more than a traffic ticket?”
Lerner, in an amazing show of courage, has spent the year since her son’s death campaigning for a change in the law, and for a shift in how prosecutors handle such cases. She also has pressed for better oversight of taxi drivers, who are given little training before getting behind the wheel.
And the taxi driver who killed her son? He, for the moment, is suspended and has to pay a $500 fine. And, he now, after all of this, has been ordered to complete a driver safety course.