Nassau District Attorney Anne Donnelly.

Nassau District Attorney Anne Donnelly. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A former NYPD officer whose drunken, high-speed “joy ride” along Rosedale Road in Valley Stream, Nassau prosecutors said, ended with the death of his 22-year-old passenger, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to second-degree manslaughter and other charges in Mineola.

Aaron Cooper, 26, was driving 109 mph in the early hours of Feb. 10, just before his 2023 Toyota Supra hit a utility pole and a tree, killing Pablo Rivera, of Valley Stream, according to Nassau District Attorney Anne Donnelly. Cooper’s blood alcohol content was 0.16%,  double the legal limit, one hour after the crash.

“The defendant — a former NYPD officer — was allegedly drunk and showing off his turbocharged sports car, recklessly racing up and down Rosedale Road at speeds topping 100 miles per hour,” Donnelly said. “The joy ride turned deadly when the driver lost control of the vehicle and barreled through a utility pole and a tree, killing his young passenger, Pablo Rivera.”

Cooper's attorney, Richard Hochhauser, of Hempstead, said the defendant is "devastated" by Rivera's death. 

"Our hearts go out to those affected by this tragic incident. Aaron is devastated by the loss of life, and he and his family extend sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Rivera,"  Hochhauser said in a statement to Newsday. "We recognize the seriousness of the charges and are fully cooperating with authorities as they continue to conduct their investigation. "

When Cooper, of Lindenhurst, was taken to Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital for treatment of broken ribs and other injuries, he said he was an NYPD cop working out of the 17th Precinct — even though he had been terminated by the department in January 2023.

Cooper was also charged with second-degree vehicular manslaughter, second-degree assault, two counts of driving while intoxicated, reckless driving and second-degree criminal impersonation. Nassau County Judge Christopher Quinn ordered bail to continue at $200,000 cash, $400,000 bond, and $1 million partially secured bond. Cooper faces 5 to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count.

Donnelly said Cooper, a member of the Marine Corps Reserve, drove back and forth on Rosedale Road at about 4:27 a.m., with Rivera in the front passenger seat. Cooper allegedly crossed the yellow line, driving westbound in the eastbound lane. The Supra struck the pole and the tree before coming to rest on the hood of a car in the front yard of a Rosedale Road home.

According to the crash data recorder, Cooper’s Supra was driving at 109 miles per hour two seconds before the crash. Rivera was pronounced dead at the scene.

Cooper was arrested at the scene by Nassau police, Donnelly said.

“This horrific crash and senseless death were completely preventable,” Donnelly said. “It is disheartening that after all these years of education about drunk and drugged driving this type of crash is still an all too regular occurrence.”


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