A New York City firefighter was arrested Monday after he allegedly rammed his muscle car into a cyclist at a West Side Highway intersection.
Brauley De La Rosa, 27, was charged with reckless endangerment and operating his vehicle with a suspended license. Police allege De La Rosa was the driver depicted in a viral video filmed Thursday morning that showed the operator of a Dodge Challenger accelerating into a cyclist standing with his bike in front of the vehicle’s grill.
The incident, near the highway intersection at West 24th Street, drew days of outrage from elected officials and traffic safety advocates who felt the driver should not have been allowed to leave the scene of the altercation.
Police who witnessed the altercation had let the driver leave of his own accord, according to Liz Gonzales, a bystander who filmed the incident and reported on it in Barstool Sports. A police department spokeswoman said both driver and biker had left the scene before police arrived, though video shows NYPD personnel present.
Earlier Monday, Brooklyn Councilman Antonio Reynoso took to the steps of City Hall to call for an investigation into the incident, arguing that the biker could easily have been killed during the altercation.
“When a [driver] is pushing a cyclist over with their vehicle, they are using that vehicle as a dangerous weapon,” Reynoso said. “And we need to talk about what the PD should be doing in those types of cases.”
Gonzales said it appeared that the cyclist had the right of way and that the altercation started after De La Rosa encroached into the intersection as the biker attempted to cross. The cyclist had stepped in front of De La Rosa’s car to retrieve his phone, which De La Rosa had taken at one point during the altercation, Gonzales said.
“The light was already red at that point … we had the clear walk signal and if he was lodged in the middle of the crosswalk, you need to stay put,” Gonzales said, as if speaking to De La Rosa. “Stay put, as opposed to trickling over when people are walking in the crosswalk.”
De La Rosa appeared to dispute that account to Gothamist, saying, “the guy hit my car with his bike and then wouldn’t move" and that the altercation was being "totally blown out of proportion."
The incident was indicative of larger issues with “car culture” in New York City, according to Reynoso. “What we saw in the video is a clear-cut example of the privilege given to cars in the city of New York,” he said.
Reynoso was joined by Manhattan Councilwoman Helen Rosenberg and advocates from Transportation Alternatives, who are pushing for the installation of cameras to help enforce right-of-way and blocking-the-box laws.
“What we saw is really just the tip of the iceberg of what bicyclists and pedestrians experience every day in New York City,” said Marco Conner, co-deputy director of Transportation Alternatives.