Police Examine Death of Man Who Was Hit By Patrol Car
Published: April 20, 2012
The Police Department is investigating the death of a man who was struck by a police car after a chase in the Brooklyn housing project where he lived.
The man, Tamon Robinson, 27, was on the grounds of the Bayview Houses in Canarsie early in the morning on April 12 when police officers answered a call reporting that a man was stealing paving stones used as borders for trees there.
When officers arrived, Mr. Robinson ran toward his building, but a police car hit him before he reached it, according to a police report about the events, which took place around 5:30 a.m.
The report said Mr. Robinson had shoulder and head injuries. He was taken to Brookdale University Hospital, where he was in a coma until Wednesday, when he was pronounced dead, according to his family.
An autopsy on Friday determined the cause of death was an accident, the result of complications from blunt impact injuries to the head, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office said.
A Police Department spokesman said the Internal Affairs Bureau, the department’s disciplinary arm, had opened an investigation into the death.
This week, friends of Mr. Robinson said he had permission from the complex’s management to take the stones. His mother, Laverne Dobbinson, said he ran a side business collecting stones, bricks and other building materials from construction sites and selling them to scrap dealers for small sums.
He did this during off hours from a full-time job he held for the past six months as a cashier at Connecticut Muffin in Fort Greene. His shift was to begin at 6 a.m., which his friends said explained the early hour of the encounter with the police.
The family has hired Sanford A. Rubenstein, a lawyer who often handles police-brutality cases. “The question becomes how did that accident occur?” Mr. Rubenstein said. “That’s what we’re looking for witnesses to come forward to shed light on.”
“I don’t know how we go from someone being chased by the police to someone being run over and killed,” he said.
Ms. Dobbinson, 44, a driver for Access-a-Ride, the transportation service for disabled people, said she was sleeping in her ground-floor apartment when she was awakened by a knock on the door. She said that police officers told her there had been an incident and asked if she had seen anything. Outside, she said, she saw many officers.
None of them, she said, told her that her son had been hit by a car. She found out about 4 p.m. that he was in the hospital.
Ms. Dobbinson said Mr. Robinson, the oldest of her five children, was born in Harlem and had lived in Canarsie for the past 12 years. She said he had no criminal record.
“He was a sweet boy and never gave anyone any trouble, not fighting or nothing,” she said. “People ought to know cops can’t do this.”