Photo Caption: Roman & Ramona Cuevas with their son Leonel Cuevas in Lincoln Hospital. Leonel, 17, is now paralyzed after being hit by a police car while riding on a dirt bike. He is also the cousin of Reynaldo Cuevas, a Bronx deli worker who was shot and killed by the NYPD in September.
The NYPD is lying about the death of a young man and the near-fatal injuries to another who were mowed down by a squad car in October, a witness told the Daily News.
Cops said Ronald Herrera, 20, who died a week after the Oct. 27 Bronx motorcycle accident, and his now-paralyzed passenger, Leonel Cuevas, 17, were aboard Herrera’s Kawasaki off-roader when it “attempted to overtake” the cop car while zooming down Walton Ave.
The dirt bike then ricocheted into a double-parked car as the cop plowed into a second parked car, the police account said.
But a witness to the bloodbath on Walton Ave. told The News the police story is false.
“They hit the dirt bike from behind, the bike twisted and Leonel flew off,” said the 18-year-old witness, who asked to remain anonymous.
“It (the bike) went down and Ronald was still holding on,” added the witness, who was on another off-road motorcycle. “It started throwing sparks. The police car completely ran over him. They really didn’t have to crash him off the bike.”
An NYPD spokeswoman said that the Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating the accident, but that there has been no change in duty status of the cops involved.
The official police account — which claims the cop car was not pursuing Herrera and Cuevas, even though its flashers were whirling — comes from the driver of the squad car, Officer Sabrina Alicea.
But that report leaves a lot out, said Cuevas’ lawyer Sanford Rubenstein.
“The question is, did the officer operating the police vehicle use it as a deadly weapon?” asked Rubenstein.
The NYPD Patrol Guide prohibits “ramming” in an attempt to stop a vehicle.
The Cuevas family requested the accident report on Nov. 5, but did not receive it until Dec. 6 — along with an apology from Inspector Kevin Catalina “for any inconvenience that this may have caused you.”
The delay in producing the basic information about the case left the Cuevas family fuming.
“I have no confidence in the Police Department,” said the paralyzed victim’s mother, Ramona Cuevas, who is also the cousin of Reynaldo Cuevas, an unarmed Bronx bodega worker shot to death in September by a Bronx cop who mistook him for a robber.
Residents of the neighborhood share that suspicion. After cops sealed off the accident scene, there was a tense confrontation with onlookers caught on cell phone video.
In the video, a cop removed his gun and equipment belt and appeared ready to brawl after an onlooker questioned his toughness.
“There’s a lot of disrespect from that precinct,” said Arabellis Herrera, the dead man’s sister.
Herrera’s death marks at least the third questionable fatal run-in with an NYPD cruiser this year — but that figure is tough to quantify because there could be other incidents, like Herrera’s, that were never reported to the media.
This Saturday, we are having a candlelight vigil and Fuck The Police March with the family of Reynaldo and Leonel Cuevas. We will be marching to the PSA 9 precinct to demand justice for Reynado, Leonel and Ronald.