WHITESTONE, Queens — It’s a good thing Abraham Perez has surveillance cameras on his Whitestone, Queens home. Without them, we couldn’t be sure what exactly happened the night of Oct. 28, 2017.
Because of the cameras, we know that college student Andrew Cho came cruising down Perez' street and, for no apparent reason, smashed hard into the rear of Perez' SUV. Perez came out and thought Cho may be intoxicated. He asked responding police officers from the 109th precinct to give Cho a sobriety test.
Perez told me about his conversation with one of the officers.
“She adamantly said no. She told me. I said 'if you don’t give him a sobriety test, I’m gonna call 911 because the guy is drunk.' She goes 'well, it’s to my discretion and I don’t smell alcohol.'”
Eventually Perez prevailed and Cho was given the test. He clearly had some trouble, but police didn’t make anything of it. Perez says they even got a cab for Cho to go home.
Perez' insurance didn’t cover the full cost of a replacement vehicle. He was about $7,500 short. Initially, Perez says Cho sounded as if he wanted to step up, but then he started avoiding Perez' calls.
In the meantime, Perez checked the surveillance video from the four cameras on his house -- and it was eye-opening. Not only did it have multiple views of the crash, but it showed much more. It captured Cho and two friends getting out of their badly damaged vehicle and hiding what looked like bags of something in nearby garbage cans and on vehicles. Of course, the police never knew this at the time of the incident and by the time the video was discovered, it was too late to do anything with the information -- too late for the police, that is.
But not for me. I went looking for Andrew Cho. He wasn’t at his parents’ apartment. And when I called him, there was no return call - at first. Then one time he apparently did get back to me but when I identified myself, he hung up.
I went back to his parents’ place a few more times and it finally paid off. Cho may have had enough. He made arrangements to meet Perez at a Whitestone Dunkin’ Donuts. Inside, he gave Perez a check for $5,500 drawn on his parents’ account and said he’d try to pay the rest.
Afterwards, I finally had the opportunity to ask Cho some questions. Here are some excerpts:
Howard: "So what happened that night?”
Cho: “I fell asleep.”
Howard: “You fell asleep.”
Howard: “What were you and your friends taking out of the vehicle and hiding?”
Cho: “ Just like, stuff in my car.”
Howard: “What kind of stuff?”
Cho: “I don’t know.”
Howard: “Were you driving under the influence?”
Cho: “No, I was not.”
The NYPD got back to us with an email explaining the way the officers handled the scene.
“…The driver of the auto showed no signs of being impaired and was given a Breathalyzer which yielded negative results. No summon was issued.”
There was no mention of the difficulty Cho had walking the straight line as captured on surveillance video. And a Breathalyzer would just check blood alcohol content, not any other potential sources of impairment.
Well, the important things are that no one was hurt in the crash and that Perez has $5,500. We’ll see if Cho comes through with the rest.