An off-duty NYPD officer is jailed on criminal charges that he killed a motorist from Elmont while driving drunk on the Van Wyck Expressway, records show.
The officer, Neville Smith, 32, of the Bronx — who was injured in Sunday’s collision — was ordered by Judge Ushir Pandit-Durant to be jailed on $300,000 bond or $200,000 cash at a hospital bedside arraignment Wednesday. He is charged with vehicular manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and other crimes. The case is due back in court May 11.
Motorist Vanessa Raghubar, 22, died Monday of the injuries she sustained a day earlier about 4 a.m., as Smith in a Mercedes allegedly sped south on the Van Wyck, near Rockaway Boulevard, crashing into the Honda being driven by Raghubar, according to the office of the Queens County District Attorney Richard Brown. The Honda veered out of control and struck a light pole.
Raghubar’s two passengers, sister Maria Raghubar, 21, and Justin Harriharran, 20, also were hurt: the sister with a fractured arm and hip and trauma to internal organs, and Harriharran with cuts, bruises and a concussion.
No attorney for Smith was listed in court records. Smith couldn’t be reached for comment, and the New York City Department of Correction, which runs the jails, does not grant incoming calls to inmates from reporters. A message left with Raghubar’s family wasn’t immediately returned.
According to Brown’s office, Smith was observed to be drunk, with “bloodshot, watery eyes, slurred speech and emitted a strong odor of alcohol on his breath.” He refused to take a Breathalyzer test for alcohol, though a court later ordered his blood to be drawn at the hospital for testing.
Lt. Paul Ng, an NYPD spokesman, said Thursday that Smith had been suspended from the police force.
“When you’re arrested,” Ng said, “you’re suspended.”