An off-duty NYPD police officer was killed in a hit-and-run on February 28 while threatening to kill a woman who had just rear-ended him.
According to ABC7NY and Gothamist Harrison repeatedly shouted things like, “Do you know who I am?,” while pointing a gun at the terrified 26-year-old woman and her 2-year-old child seconds after the collision.
“I can kill you right now!”
Instead it was Harrison who was killed when he was struck by an Infiniti, who then sped off. The New York City police officer was 25.
The driver of the Infiniti, William Espinal-Mejia, 35, turned himself in on Monday. He is facing a second-degree felony charge of “leaving the scene of an accident”.
He is being held on a $100,000 bond, although his attorney stated he expects his client to post bail soon. He has pleaded not guilty.
Police allege that Espinal-Mejia briefly stopped, but then sped off and left the scene without returning.
Espinal-Mejia’s attorney claims his client would have stopped, but he had to speed up when he saw an approaching semi-truck begin to jack-knife in his rear-view mirrors to avoid being rear-ended.
“It was just a very, very dangerous situation,” said attorney Victor A. Rotolo. “He had his wife and cousin in the car, and he made the decision to leave.”
Prosecutors claim Espinal-Mejia, “didn’t pull over somewhere further down and make a phone call. He didn’t get off the highway and make a phone call. He didn’t drive to a police station. He was not going to come forward with this.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed dissatisfaction about the incident.
He said, “My heart goes out to his family. It is someone who served this city, and was killed. Again, this is the most heinous of acts to kill another human being with your car, and then leave. In this case, killing an officer of the law, and not even having the decency to stay and own up to it.”
Yet an objective person could argue that Harrison lacked the human decency to refrain from drawing his gun on an unarmed woman and her child for arguing with him over a traffic accident.
And like most cops who commit crimes, he probably wouldn’t have owned up to that either.
In an interview with ABC7, Harrison’s cousin, Drexel Berry stated that his cousin was, “genuinely nice guy. You didn’t have to ask him for anything because he was already giving it to you. Justice should be swift. It should be swift because, from what I can see, there’s no reason that this should’ve happened.”
To his credit, according to NJ.com, Harrison was on his way to help a friend having car trouble when the accident occurred. During media interviews his family, friends and fellow officers spoke highly of him.
Harrison worked in the 100th precinct in the Rockaways and is mourned by friends, family and fellow members of the thin blue line. He’d been a police officer since 2014.
Espinal-Mejia next hearing is April 6.