Last month Laverne Dobbinson received a letter addressed to her son, Tamon Robinson, charging him $710 for damages to a New York police car that struck and killed him in April.
Dobbinson said she felt “disrespected” by the letter and now the city has issued an apology, the New York Times has reported.
“I was humiliated that they’re sending my son a letter for the car that killed him,” Dobbinson said at a press conference Friday. “They killed him. Let him rest in peace.”
“We regret that Mr. Robinson’s family received a collection notice,” said Kate Ahlers, a spokesperson for the city’s Law Department, which is responsible for the notice. “We recognize that this involves a tragic case.”
Ahlers says the letter was sent in error after the department received a referral from a Police Department unit.
Christina Gonzalez, a lawyer for the collection firm Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, said the firm received Robinson’s case as part of a group of collection cases referred by the city and the Police Department. She says the firm “ceased collection” as soon as it realized Mr. Robinson had died.
“We were not aware of the circumstances,” Ms. Gonzalez said. “This type of receivable is not something we pursue when the alleged debtor is deceased.”
“They have to realize this letter will be received by his mother, who is still grieving his wrongful death,” Sanford Rubenstein, the family’s lawyer, said. He called the situation a “disgrace” and “heartless.”
Tamon Robinzon was on the run from police in April after being caught stealing cobblestones from the Bay View Houses in Canarsie. During the pursuit, he was struck by one of the police cruisers. He died in the hospital six days later.
The city’s medical examiner ruled the death an accident. The NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is currently investigating allegations that the incident was intentional.
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