Laverne Dobbinson, 45, mother of Tamon Robinson, 27, who was hit by a New York City Police Department car says the police billed her $710 for damages on the car that killed her son.
The New York Daily News reports that Tamon Robinson died in April after he was hit by an NYPD car while trying to escape the police. USA Today reports that at the time of the accident, Robinson worked at a Connecticut muffins shop and also made some extra income hawking items to scrap dealers.
He was allegedly caught stealing decorative cobblestones from a public housing complex. According to The NY Daily News, Robinson was struck by a police car driven by an officer identified as Volkan Uretener.
Global Post reports however, that friends claim the owner of the building had granted Robinson permission to take the stones.
Robinson fell into a coma and never regained consciousness. He died six days later of blunt impact injuries to the head, The New York Daily News reports.
According to The Huffington Post, six months after the accident, Robinson's mother, Laverne Dobbinson, received a letter ordering the family to pay $710 for the damages on the car that killed Robinson.
Dobbinson said: “We’re still grieving, and this is like a slap in the face. They want my son to pay for damage to the vehicle that killed him. It’s crazy.”
The victim's uncle John Torrence, wondered: “Isn't there respect for the dead?”
The NY Daily News reports that the letter addressed to Tamon Robinson, and dated September 27, demanded $710 for "property damage to a vehicle owned by the New York Police Department." The letter threatened to bring a lawsuit if the recipient fails to pay the claim.
After the media carried the report that NYPD was demanding that Robinson's family pay for the damage to the police cruiser that killed him, a spokeswoman for the City Law Department said the claim was sent in error.
According to The NY Daily News, spokeswoman Kate Ahler, said: "We regret that Mr. Robinson’s family received a collection notice. We recognize that this involves a tragic case.”
Ahler explained that the authorities had hired a law firm to collect debts. An official of the law firm Linebarger Goggan Blair and Sampson, said: “We are not going to proceed with the collection of the account."
But Dobbinson's lawyer Sanford Rubenstein, said the city's response was not sufficient and came too late. He said the Dobbinsons intend to file a wrongful-death lawsuit against the city.
The Brooklyn District Attorney’s office and the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau say they are investigating allegations that the officer who drove the vehicle intentionally hit Robinson to stop him escaping. NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau says it is probing eyewitness allegations that the police driver ran directly into the victim.
The Huffington Post reports witnesses deny police claim that the police cruiser ran into Robinson accidentally. An eyewitness said: "They hit him. He flew up and he came down.They backed the car up, and they told him to get up. People were yelling out their windows screaming at the cops, ‘We saw what you did.’"
Robinson was rushed to a nearby hospital where he fell into a coma.
The damage to the police cruiser was a large indentation on the front, left-hand side of the vehicle, NY Daily News reports. Rubenstein warned the police not to repair the damage, saying that would be in violation of court order to preserve it as evidence in criminal investigation. Rubenstein said the $710 bill was a "disgrace." He said: “In my 40 years of practicing law in this city I have never seen anything as heartless as this."
Dobbinson said her family was distressed by the manner in which the police handled the tragic incident. She said while Robinson lay brain dead at the hospital, police shackled him to his bed and a guard kept watch over him. She said she had to seek police permission to see her son on hospital bed and she was allowed only 20 minutes.
Police broke down the door of the family's apartment on the day of Robinson's funeral. However, they repaired the door later, saying they executed a search warrant at the wrong location.