Insult to injury: Cops kill youth, bill mom for car damage, community reacts
NAYABA ARINDE Amsterdam News Editor | 4/11/2013, 4:21 p.m.
First an NYPD cruiser runs over and kills a young Brooklyn man, then the NYPD sends the family a bill for vehicle damage for the best part of $1,000, attached with a threat of a lawsuit if it is not paid.
"Audacious" and "brazen insensitivity" are some of the printable words being used by members of the community to describe the action.
Scene: Early in the morning on April 12 this year, Tamon Robinson, 27, was killed as he tried to outrun cops pursuing him in his housing complex in Canarsie, Brooklyn. Cops said they spotted him picking up paving stones, which his family determines he had permission to take. Officer Volkan Uretener, in a patrol car, gave chase. Then, not only was the young man run over by a patrol car, but the NYPD sent a bill to the dead man, ordering him to pay for the damage that killed him. Twisted, cruel irony.
"It was a stupid error on their part to send a bill to the family mourning a tragic death," slammed state Sen. Eric Adams, who is a retired NYPD captian. "This was a dumb error that should be investigated by the Internal Affairs Bureau to see if it was done by someone being intentionally callous."
"We found it extremely insensitive for the NYPD to send Laverne Dobbinson a bill for damages to the police car that killed her son. She is already subjected to seeing Tamon's blood stains on the pavement every time she leaves the house, but to add such heartless insult to injury is reprehensible," said Tamika D. Mallory, national executive director of the National Action Network.
Robinson's mom, Dobbinson, was once again distraught, stating that as the family is still grieving, "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 letter addressed to her son was dated Sept. 27, and demanded $710 for "property damage to a vehicle owned by the New York Police Department."
The outcry was immediate, and the NYPD took just a short time to reverse their "error."
NYPD Inspector Kim Royster told the AmNews, "We regret that Mr. Robinson's family received a collection notice. This notice was sent in error."
Robinson's family attorney Sanford Rubenstein stated, "The attempt to bill him $710 for property damage was a disgrace. In my 40 years of practicing law in this city, I have never seen anything as heartless as this."
Rallies and vigils over the last few months have had the family and the community asking questions, along with community leaders like Brooklyn City Councilman Charles Barron and the Revs. Al Sharpton and Herbert Daughtry.
Witnesses disputed the reported police version and charged that the officer deliberately mowed Robinson down.
As Robinson was left brain dead in Brookdale Medical Center, cops kept him shackled to his bed. His mother said she had to get permission from the NYPD to visit her son's bedside and was permitted to stay for only 20 minutes.