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A grand jury is expected to be called this week to weigh the charges against a drunken Bay Ridge cop arrested for mowing down a 33-year-old woman in Mill Basin.
At the same time, police were widening the probe against a handful of other cops who allegedly tried to “sober up” Police Officer Andrew Kelly before investigators could determine his Blood-Alcohol Content (BAC) in the hours after he ran down Vionique Valnord.
Valnord, the daughter of an East Flatbush minister, was reportedly hailing a cab near the corner of East 56th Street and Avenue N after attending a nearby wedding at 1 a.m. on September 27 when she was struck by Kelly’s Jeep.
Kelly, a seven-year member of the force, was one of many witnesses to render aid to the woman. His four passengers, including an off-duty cop from the 70th Precinct in Flatbush, reportedly left the scene before responding officers arrived.
Paramedics rushed Valnord to Kings County Hospital where she died of her injuries, officials said.
Over 200 people turned out to the Church of God on Flatbush Avenue and Cortelyou Road Saturday morning to pay final respects to Valnord, a security guard who friends say was planning to be a minister herself.
During the service, attendees remembered how Valnord lit up a room when she visited friends and family members.
“Whenever she greets you, she greets you with a smile and by the end of the conversation, you burst out and laugh,” Pastor Francois Jeanty III told those in attendance.
Although Kelly was showing signs of being drunk, and had reportedly admitted to having a few beers as he watched a football game with friends before the accident, he scored a 0.0 on a BAC test that was administered seven hours after the accident.
Sources said that a host of errors led to the long delay. It reportedly took four hours to get a warrant to compel Kelly to give a blood sample. The test was further delayed when the doctor charged with drawing the blood thought he needed Kelly’s consent to proceed.
During that time, Police Officer Robert McGinn, an anti-crime cop from the 63rd Precinct, reportedly supplied Kelly with water and gum in an attempt to hasten the alcohol through his system.
McGinn was suspended from duty on Thursday for providing Kelly with water. Police sources said that he is the only 63rd Precinct cop to be suspended in the case.
“Right now it’s in Internal Affairs’ hands,” a source from the precinct told this paper. “While incidents like this cause some tension, we’re going to continue on.”
Also suspended was Police Officer Michael Downs, the 70th Precinct cop who fled the scene. He didn’t tell anyone that he was involved in the accident until the following morning, when he informed a supervisor of his involvement as he showed up for work.
Police said that Kelly was suspended right after the accident and charged with drunk driving and vehicular manslaughter.
Despite the BAC test results, a spokesperson for the Kings County District Attorney’s office said that they had “other evidence” and expected “to be able to prove that his blood alcohol was above the legal limit.”
Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes and Sanford Rubenstein, an attorney representing Valnord’s family, reportedly met on Monday. During the meeting, Hynes said he was convening a grand jury immediately, Rubenstein reported.
“He made it clear to the family that his office will prosecute to the full extent of the law and that the grand jury would be convened as soon as possible to listen to testimony,” Rubenstein said. “The Pastor and [Valnord’s] mother are confident that justice would be done.”
Rubenstein said that the grand jury would be hearing only testimony about Valnord’s death, not about the alleged cover-up.
“If some criminality is found, we’re sure that the DA would prosecute that too,” he said.
As of this writing, no civil suits have been filed in regards to Valnord’s death.
Rubenstein told this paper that a civil suit at this juncture would be “premature.”
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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