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Bike advocates push for charges against trucker in cyclist’s death


A group of Boston bicycle advocates have released surveillance footage from a fatal 2015 bike vs. truck crash in the hopes of bringing charges against the truck driver — even through authorities have already found that he was not at fault in the crash.

The Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition has sent the video to the Boston Police Department to ask them to reconsider filing involuntary manslaughter charges against New Jersey-based truck driver Matthew Levari, who was involved in the August 2015 death of 38 year old Dr. Anita Kurmann.

In the video, you can see both Levari and Kurmann making a right turn from Massachusetts  Avenue onto Beacon Street. During the right turn, Kurmann is struck by the trailer and run over.

Levari later turned himself in to police.

Cyclists Angered That No Charges Were Filed Against Truck Driver

Prosecutors elected not to file charges agains Levari because Kurmann was likely in his blind spot at the time of the crash. Additionally, Suffolk County District Attorney told local news station WBZ that “the investigation did not reveal driver impairment, distraction, excessive speed, failure to signal, or disregard of a known risk.

Nevertheless, cyclist groups hope that the video will spur authorities to renew the investigation into Kurmann’s death and press charges agains Levari. Richard Fries of the Massachusetts Bike Coalition noted, “We were disappointed to learn that the crash investigation placed the blame entirely on Dr. Kurmann.”

Fries also acknowledged that Levari used his turn signal and that Kurmann made a mistake in ignoring it: “There may have been a tactical mistake made, but legally, the driver made the mistake. How do you want to run your roads? Like it’s the wild wild west?

Joel Feingold, also of the Massachusetts Bike Coalition says that Levari had ample time to notice Kurmann: “16 seconds she’s there. That’s lots of opportunity for the driver to say, ‘Oh she’s caught up with me. I have to be careful.’ Clearly he never did. And that’s negligence.

Boston police say that they will not pursue charges against Levari in spite of the bike advocate’s video, according to WBZ.

You can take a look at the video below but be warned that the content is graphic.

UPDATE January 25 1 p.m. ———————————————————————–

Joel Feingold of MassBike contacted CDLLife after the initial publication of this article and issued the following statement about the incident:

My team, operating under the aegis of MassBike, performed a thorough examination and analysis of the BPD Crash Reconstruction Report and other materials. We attempted to meet with the District Attorney and the Boston Police to discuss our findings more than a dozen times and were rebuffed. This is outrageous. And for the following reasons, we believe that the refusal of the DA’s office to prosecute the truck driver who killed Dr Kurmann is a mistake in both law and public policy.

* The DA official spokesperson states that because the truck blinker was on for 8 seconds Dr Kurmann should not have been in the lane beside the truck. And so it is her fault. This belies the fact that, number 1, she was in the bike lane beside the truck, where she was legally entitled to be, for 16 seconds and number 2, that merely putting on one’s directional does not entitle one to turn. It does not excuse the act. The driver is legally responsible to ascertain that the path is clear. DA Conley knows this and chooses to ignore it, because he believes that the prosecution will be difficult to win.
* The driver had passed Dr Kurmann on the Mass Ave Bridge, very shortly prior to his need to slow down to a virtual stop for the light cycle, so the driver knew or should have known that she would catch up, and made sure that she was clear when he turned.
* The truck was very large and was being maneuvered in the Back Bay, a dense and highly populated area. Caution was required. The driver should have double and tripled checked his path was clear and proceeded slowly. But the driver accelerated though the turn, which was reckless.
* Above all, it is the driver’s responsibility to take care to not hit someone.
* More technically, the driver failed to take the proper care and is guilty of “operating to endanger,” defined in case law as operating a motor vehicle on a public way “in a negligent manner so that the lives or safety of the public might be endangered”. Commonwealth v. Jones, 382 Mass. 387, 392 (1981).
* Involuntary manslaughter is “an unlawful homicide, unintentionally caused (1) in the commission of an unlawful act, malum in se, not amounting to a felony nor likely to endanger life . . . or (2) by an act which constitutes such a disregard of probable harmful consequences to another as to constitute wanton or reckless conduct.” Commonwealth v. Campbell, 352 Mass. 387, 397 (1967). Commonwealth v. Sheppard , 404 Mass. 774, 776 (1989).
* Wanton or reckless conduct may be established by showing that the defendant “knew, or should have known, that his conduct created a high degree of likelihood that substantial harm would result to another.” Commonwealth v. Sneed, 413 Mass. 387, 393 (1992). See also Commonwealth v. Sullivan, 29
Mass. App. Ct. 93, 99 (1990).
* Our exhaustive research and analysis shows that there is ample evidence that the driver did operate to endanger, that he was wanton or reckless, and to find the driver guilty.
* Legally there are ample grounds to prosecute and likely prevail.
* From a public policy perspective a refusal to prosecute on such an egregious crime sends the message that the State does not care about bike riders. It says that we place the burden to protect themselves upon the exposed and vulnerable victims of gross road violence, instead of on drivers of the well armored and powerful motor vehicles, which are deadly weapons to pedestrians and bike riders. It says that the State is unwilling to do what is right, merely because it might be difficult.
* DA Conley abdicates his responsibility for justice for Anita Kurmann by failing to prosecute.
* DA Conley turns his back on his duty to the public when he fails to prosecute to deter other drivers from negligent and other criminal driving violations.
* Our full report may be viewed here: http://www.massbike.org/anita_kurmann_video_narrative.
* The crash video is viewable here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mra-IDlEUjE
Our effort shows one killing for which justice has not been achieved. It demonstrates that enforcement of current laws needs to be better and that new laws which more clearly define motor vehicle operators as presumed liable when they kill or injure a pedestrian or bike rider are needed. It is time for fair justice for Dr Kurmann and other victims of road violence.


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