FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Former NYPD Officer Indicted for Allegedly Killing Pedestrian and
Injuring Three Others When Driving Drunk and Jumping Curb
Defendant’s Blood-Alcohol Level was Nearly Three Times the Legal Limit;
Faces up to 25 Years in Prison if Convicted
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a former New York City Police Department officer has been charged in a 26-count indictment with aggravated vehicular homicide, manslaughter, vehicular assault and other charges for allegedly driving drunk in Williamsburg, jumping a curb and striking pedestrians on a sidewalk, killing one and seriously injuring three others.
District Attorney Thompson said, “It’s outrageous that this defendant – a New York City police officer at the time – chose to get behind the wheel while drunk and caused a deadly and horrific car crash. His poor decision took the life of a promising young man and left three others with injuries they’ll suffer from for life. We will now hold this defendant accountable for the immeasurable damages that he caused on the streets of Brooklyn that night.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Nicholas Batka, 28, of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice William Miller on a 26-count indictment in which he is charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, second-degree manslaughter, first-degree vehicular manslaughter, aggravated vehicular assault, aggravated driving while intoxicated and related counts. The defendant was released on $300,000 bail and his license was suspended. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the top count with which he is charged.
The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, in the early morning hours of July 16, 2016, the defendant was drinking with friends at The Whiskey, a bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. At about 3 a.m., while driving his Dodge Durango, the defendant jumped the curb in the vicinity of Bedford Avenue and North 8th Street in Williamsburg. The vehicle struck four pedestrians on the sidewalk and crashed through a wrought iron fence into the front of a building at 161 Bedford Avenue. A cell phone video shows the defendant being prevented by passersby from leaving the scene.
Andrew Esquivel, 21, suffered blunt force trauma and died hours after the crash. Sophia Tabchhouri, 20, suffered severe injuries to her legs and arms, including multiple fractures. Divya Menezes, 20, suffered severe trauma to both legs and to the right arm plus pelvic fractures. James Balchunas, 24, suffered serious leg injuries. All three surviving victims continue to receive extensive medical treatment.
The defendant sustained minor injuries and was taken to a hospital, where he refused to submit to a blood test. Blood taken from the defendant about two hours after the crash showed that his blood-alcohol level at that time was measured at .23, according to the evidence. The legal limit is a blood-alcohol level of .08.
The defendant, who was a probationary officer assigned to the Manhattan Transit Task Force, was fired by the Police Department a few days after the incident.
The case was investigated by Detective Kenneth Long, Detective Michael Sharpe and Detective Edward Behringer of the NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad, and by Sergeant Terrence Smithson and Captain Louis Vierling of the NYPD’s Internal Affair Bureau.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Bureau Chief of the District Attorney’s Trial Bureau III, Grey Zone, with the assistance of Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Nocella, Deputy Bureau Chief of the Grey Zone, and Assistant District Attorney Krystyn Tendy, also of the Grey Zone.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.