In April 2012, Tamon Robinson was on the run from New York police when he was hit by one of their cars and later died in the hospital.
Now, months later, the city is ordering Robinson’s family to pay $710 to cover the damages on the same car that struck her son, the New York Daily News reported.
“We’re still grieving , and this is like a slap in the face,” said Laverne Dobbinson, Robinson’s mother. “They want my son to pay for damage to the vehicle that killed him. It’s crazy.”
The letter the family received asks them to pay for “property damage to a vehicle owned by the New York Police Department,” and threatens a lawsuit if the money is not received.
“Isn’t there respect for the dead?” John Torrence, Robinson’s uncle, asked.
Dobbinson told the Daily News that she’s been “dismayed from the start” about the lack of respect the city has shown. While Robinson lay brain dead in the hospital, police handcuffed him to his bed. She also says police only allowed her to visit for 20 minutes at a time.
According to the NYPD, Robinson, a 27-year-old coffee barista, was stealing cobblestones from the Bay View Houses in Canarsie. When police confronted him, he began running toward his building before he was struck by one of the vehicles.
“He flew up and 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,’” Franchette Mowbray, one witness, told the paper.
Police, on the other hand, say the car was stopped when Robinson ran into it and the city medical examiner ruled his death an accident. The NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau says it is still investigating witnesses’ allegations that the incident was intentional.
The family’s attorney has filed an intent to sue with the city and says repairs to the vehicle should be postponed while the case is under investigation.
“In my 40 years of practicing law in this city, I have never seen anything as heartless as this,” the attorney said.
Dobbinson says instead of repairs, the car should be taken off patrol.
“Just like those officers shouldn’t be on the street, either,” she added.
Follow Ugonna on Twitter at @ugonnaokpalaoka.