Monday, May 11, 2015

People acting like Sgt. Schultz at the scene of a fatal pedestrian accident, saying they 'see nothing!'

While covering the taxi cab vs. pedestrian fatal crash on Manhattan's Upper East Side for 1010 WINS, I was struck by the number of people who may have been witnesses who were, not only reluctant to speak with reporters, but steadfastly avoided assisting the police. It's something I can't quite understand.

To recap, a taxi was making a left turn from Madison Ave. onto E. 60th Street when it collided with an elderly woman in the crosswalk killing her.

Reporters are conditioned to accept that some people just won't grant us interviews. Fair enough. Nothing is compelling any witness to talk to reporters at story scenes.

But the failure to help the police in a case such as this is a bit perplexing.

One woman, who works in upscale Barney's, was describing the accident to co-workers, prompting me and another reporter to approach her to see if she was a witness. She assured us she was not. She was just repeating what a co-worker out on a break saw. We asked if she would put us in touch with the co-worker to see if that person might grant us an interview. She declined. 

But then, a police detective investigating the accident had the same question for her. And she refused, telling the officer she assumed they, meaning the cops, had found everyone who wanted to talk. (She was on the phone with her co-worker at the time by the way.) The detective then, a bit disgusted and frustrated, went into Barney's to try to locate the witness.

Other reporters told me they saw some potential witnesses declining to cooperate with the cops because of the number of security cameras in the neighborhood. Apparently they felt if the police looked at the camera footage (if indeed any existed) they wouldn't have to be inconvenienced.

I have been on other scenes where people are less than cooperative because they are fearful of retaliation from, say, a gang member. But this was not one of those occasions. It was enough to take me, and my colleague, aback. 

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