The tragedy never seems to end for the family of Cooper Stock.
The 9-year-old boy was struck and killed by a taxi while crossing W. 97th Street in Jaunary 2014. Since his death, his parents, Dana Lerner and Richard Stock, have worked tirelessly – and, given the circumstances, heroically – to squeeze some meaning out of his death. His mother, in particular, has campaigned to highlight the dangers faced by pedestrians in the city, especially from taxi drivers. Her efforts culminated last fall in the passage of Cooper’s Law, which was supposed to make it easier to take the licenses away from taxi drivers who kill people.
To Dana Lerner’s dismay, Cooper’s Law now looks to have been more about PR than substantive reform.
An investigation by this newspaper’s Daniel Fitzsimmons, published last week, showed that in the nine months since the passage of Cooper’s Law, only two taxi drivers have had their licenses suspended, a truly dismal showing.
The vast majority of drivers involved in fatal or critical accidents wriggle free based on gaps in the law – usually because NYPD officers at the scene didn’t issue a violation at the time of the accident (a step needed for Cooper’s Law to take effect). Other drivers have gone free because their victims, while maimed or brutally injured, weren’t categorized as being in “critical” condition.
West Side Councilmember Helen Rosenthal, who shepherded the legislation through the New York City Council, needs to move immediately to close the gaps in the law. She told us last week she was considering tweaks to the legislation; instead, the changes need to be substantive, and they need to happen now.
Until they do, Cooper’s Law will remain essentially a soundbite, yet another piece of legislation passed in the wake of tragedy that actually changes very little. And the family of the little boy at the heart of this, who so badly want to make sure that no other family has to endure what they have endured, will be betrayed.