Off-duty policeman’s SUV strikes pedestrians, 1 dead

Associated Press

New York — One man was killed and three other pedestrians were injured early Saturday when an off-duty police officer’s SUV struck them in a trendy neighborhood in Brooklyn, police said.

Authorities said 28-year-old Nicholas Batka lost control of his vehicle and it mounted the sidewalk on a street in the popular Williamsburg section, striking two men and two women.

One victim, a 21-year-old man whose name was not immediately released, was pronounced dead at Bellevue Hospital. Batka and the three other stricken pedestrians were taken to hospitals in stable condition.

Batka was arrested later Saturday on charges including manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter and driving while intoxicated. No information was available on a lawyer who could comment on the charges.

Police spokesman Officer Brian Magoolaghan said Batka has worked in the department’s transit bureau in Manhattan for one and a half years. He said Batka was suspended without pay pending the disposition of the case.

The New York Post quoted neighborhood residents as saying people were awakened by screams after the accident.

“I was woken up with a huge noise. People were screaming in agony,” Agata Winter told the newspaper.

Angela Zielinski, another witness, told the Post she confronted the driver.

“Dude … you just hit four people,” she recalled telling him. “He stared at me with a blank stare.”

Another witness, Kelly Convery, told the newspaper that Batka tried to drive away from the scene and when he couldn’t, he moved to the vehicle’s passenger side.

“Everyone saw him do it,” she said.

Zielinski said she saw Batka show his police badge to people gathered around the vehicle.