A $1.75 million settlement will be paid to the family of Eddie Fernandez, a 28-year-old dirt bike rider who died six years ago after a police chase in Hunts Point, amNewYork has learned.
The settlement will bring an end to a lawsuit filed by Fernandez’s mother, Eusebia Ramirez, shortly after her son’s death. The figure was confirmed by Ramirez’s lawyer and the city Law Department.
Fernandez and his best friend, Adalberto Gonzalez, were riding dirt bikes near the intersection of Randall Avenue and Coster Street on Aug. 11, 2012, when an NYPD cruiser struck their bikes, court papers in their civil suits contend.
Officer Edward McClain, who was driving the car, hit Gonzalez’s bike first. When Gonzalez fled and hopped on Fernandez’s bike, McClain rammed them, court papers allege.
“I was riding my own — we had two different bikes — and the cops knocked me off of one, they hit me off of that,” Gonzalez told amNewYork. “I ran, met up with Eddie and I jumped on his bike. The cop hit us from the back.”
“His body hit the light pole,” Gonzalez recalled.
Fernandez died from head injuries, according to the Bronx Supreme Court lawsuit.
The fatal crash resulted from “negligence, carelessness and recklessness”on the part of McClain and the city, Ramirez’s suit alleged.
Gonzalez said his right ankle and lower back were injured.
Video of the incident — which has been widely publicized in news reports — does appear to show an NYPD cruiser striking the two men.
McClain declined to comment.
“From the very beginning, it was our opinion that the conduct of Police Officer McClain and the entire NYPD in how they dealt with those riding dirt bikers and specifically how Officer McClain conducted himself was negligent and reckless,” said Edward Steinberg, who represents Fernandez’s mother. “It is our belief that the evidence, including the video, showed the true actions and intentions of the officer that day.”
Steinberg also said that while Fernandez’s family “will never get to spend time with Eddie, we feel that the settlement provides them with some level of justice and acknowledgment that Eddie’s death was not of his doing.”
A spokesman for the city Law Department said “The settlement is a fair resolution to a tragic case.”
The Bronx District Attorney’s Office did not prosecute McClain, who is still with the NYPD.
Gonzalez was convicted of reckless driving relating to the incident, and was ordered to pay an $80 fine.
“It wasn’t fair,” said Gonzalez, who won a $250,000 settlement from the city. “It shouldn’t have happened.”
Gonzalez, now 32, said his “whole life has changed completely” since losing Fernandez.
“It was more than a friendship. Everything we did was together,” he recalled. “He was a good man. He was a caring guy — always looked out for everyone else.”