Prosecutors charged an off-duty NYPD detective who killed a 22-year-old Guyanese woman in a booze-fueled crash in Queens with criminally negligent homicide during a brief hospital arraignment Wednesday, officials said.
According to the New York Daily News, Neville Smith, 32, was also charged with vehicular manslaughter and drunken driving for crashing his 2010 Mercedes-Benz into Vanessa Raghubar’s vehicle on the Van Wyck Expressway near Rockaway Blvd. in South Ozone Park at about 4 a.m. Sunday, authorities said.
Moments after the accident, Smith told responding officers he was returning home “from a dinner function for an old co-worker” when he struck Raghbuar’s car, according to court papers.
Raghubar, a psychology student at York College preparing to graduate in June, suffered a massive head injury and bleeding on the brain, officials said.
She died of her injuries at Jamaica Hospital on Monday, cops said.
According to NY Daily, the soon-to-be college grad was driving home from her sister’s birthday celebration when the fatal collision took place, heartbroken family members said.
Smith, a detective assigned to the 48th Precinct in the Bronx, was heading south on the Van Wyck Expressway at an unsafe speed when he rear-ended Raghubar’s red Honda Accord in the center lane, according to cops.
The collision sent Raghubar’s car careening across the highway onto a grassy shoulder, where it struck a tree and an overhead light pole, critically injuring her and her two passengers.
Her younger sister Maria Raghubar, 21, and her sister’s boyfriend, Justin Harricharran, 20, remained at Jamaica Hospital, where Maria has undergone four surgeries for a shattered pelvis, a shredded bladder and a broken arm.
Maria Raghubar was seated in the rear seat when Smith struck the car, officials said. Harricharran was sitting in the passenger seat.
Smith plowed into a Jersey barrier after hitting Raghubar’s car, officials said. He was rushed to Jamaica Hospital with serious, but not life-threatening injuries, cops said.
Neville appeared drunk and reeked of alcohol, but refused to have a Breathalyzer test taken for several hours after the collision, forcing investigators to get a court order to draw his blood, officials said.
A judge ordered Smith held on $300,000 bail, officials said. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison, prosecutors said.
“Drinking and then driving is a deadly combination,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement. “The defendant — a police officer bound to enforce the law — is now accused of breaking the law and with deadly consequences.”
Raghubar’s family has been calling for criminal charges against Smith since the fatal impact.
“He was a cop and he was drunk. We want justice,” Raghubar’s aunt Esther Mongul told the Daily News Monday. “He was supposed to protect us, not kill us.”
Attempts to reach Raghubar’s family were unsuccessful Wednesday. (Excerpts from NY Daily News)