NYPD claims Brooklyn teacher fatally hit by police van was his own fault: lawsuit

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WILLIAMSBURG, Brooklyn -- Felix Coss’ family says the veteran Spanish language teacher did everything by the book when he crossed the street, and still struck by an NYPD van turning into his path.

But lawyers for the city are fighting a lawsuit, arguing, among other points, that Coss’ death was his own fault.

It happened at the intersection of Hooper Street and Broadway in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on Saturday, July 6, 2013.

Surveillance video shows Coss at the corner, waiting for the light to change so he could cross Broadway. The light changes, Coss crosses, and the NYPD van that was stopped at Hooper turns left, and without stooping, barrels right into the Coss.

He was pronounced dead a short time later at the hospital, a day before his 61st birthday.

PIX11 spoke with Coss’ brother Ivan on the phone.

“They should be responsible for that. The fact that they are trying to blame my brother for crossing the street and the way it’s put - put yourself in my shoes,” Ivan Coss said.

In their latest court documents, the New York City Law Department, which is representing the Police Department, and Officer Paula Medrano, who was driving the police van that struck Coss, say Coss "knew or should have known in the exercise of due/reasonable care of the risks and dangers incident to engaging in the activity alleged.”

City lawyers deny any wrongdoing, and state several other positions in their legal answer, including their assertion that Officer Medrano is immune from this civil action because of their position and duties as a police officer.

“So now, yeah, I’m more, ya know, more upset that the people responsible are now the ones trying to run from this and make my brother the cause of this action, i mean it’s just ridiculous,” Ivan Coss said.

Felix Coss’ premature fatal encounter with an NYPD officer occurred more than a year before Mayor de Blasio kicked off his Vision Zero campaign to end all traffic-related deaths.

At three years and counting, we’ll have to wait to see what comes first, the city reaching that Vision Zero goal, or a conclusion in case with Felix Coss’ family.

Lawyers for both the city and the Coss family are due back in court in less than two weeks, on April 5.