(TheBlaze/AP) — New York City officials have apologized for sending a collection letter to a man who was fatally struck by a police cruiser, billing him $710 for the damage his body did to the vehicle.
In April, police officers in Brooklyn caught 23-year-old Tamon Robinson digging up paving stones, and he was fleeing on foot when he was hit by the vehicle. He reportedly slipped into a coma after the accident, and died six days later without regaining consciousness.
Then, last month, Robinson’s mother got a letter from a law firm retained by the city. It was addressed to her dead son and demanded that he pay for the damage within 10 days.
Robinson’s mother told The New York Daily News she was outraged.
“We’re still grieving, and this is like a slap in the face,” Robinson’s mom, Laverne Dobbinson, 45, remarked. “They want my son to pay for damage to the vehicle that killed him. It’s crazy.”
But that’s not all. The Daily News continues:
Dobbinson said her family has been dismayed from the start by the lack of respect shown by the city.
As Robinson lay brain dead in Brookdale Medical Center, cops kept him shackled to his bed under police guard.
Dobbinson said she had to get permission from the NYPD to visit her son’s bedside — and was permitted to stay for only 20 minutes.
In a made-for-movie twist, on the day of Robinson’s funeral, cops broke down the door of the family’s apartment — and later acknowledged they had executed a search warrant at the wrong location. The city repaired the door the same day, according to Dobbinson.
At the time of his death, Robinson worked at a Connecticut muffin shop in Fort Greene, but also tried to make extra money hawking items, including the paving stones, to scrap dealers, his mother said. [Emphasis added]
Here is an NBC4 interview with the mother from October, when she had just received the notice:
A spokeswoman for the city’s law department told The New York Times the notice never should have been sent, and it’s unclear why it happened.
“We don’t know any instance where we send letters like that,” Paul J. Browne said. “I’m not sure how it came out.”
Cristina Gonzalez, a lawyer for the collection firm, added: “We were not aware of the circumstances…This type of receivable is not something we pursue when the alleged debtor is deceased.”
The family’s lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein, reportedly intends to file a lawsuit on behalf of the family seeking $20 million for what he claims was a wrongful death. The Brooklyn district attorney’s office is also investigating the matter.