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Friday, October 31, 2014

Emotions run high at Spellman hearing

By Aimee Kuvadia and Kate Pastor
Posted

 

Family members of Kingsbridge resident Drane Nikac have finally gotten their day in court. 

Ms. Nicak was struck and killed by a car between West 232nd and West 233rd streets on Oct. 30, 2009. Kevin Spellman, a then-42-year-old off-duty police officer and Riverdale resident was behind the wheel. 

He was reportedly driving home in a government-issued Chevy sedan after a night of drinking with other officers at Pauline’s Cabaret, a local watering hole. 

After nearly three years of delays that have long frustrated Ms. Nikac’s grieving family, pretrial suppression hearings for probable cause began on Monday. 

“Thank God something is finally happening,” said Ms. Nikac’s granddaughter Sara Juncaj, who said she learned of her 66-year-old grandmother’s death after she failed to reach her by phone and then heard she had been killed from a news report on television. 

On Monday, 50th Precinct Sgt. Brian Lopez testified that Mr. Spellman was so drunk at the time of the accident that he mistook Ms. Nikac’s gender. 

Sgt. Lopez testified that when he arrived at the scene of the accident, Mr. Spellman said, “Hey Sarge, I didn’t see that dude. He came out of nowhere.”

According to sources, Mr. Spellman was a 22-year NYPD veteran working with the Bronx Fugitive Task Force who had desks at several precincts, including the 50th.

Before the second day of hearings began on Tuesday, he sat anxiously in the back of the courtroom, staring at his shoes. Then, his lawyer took Sgt. Lopez to task for altering the exact phrasing of his testimony. 

“I didn’t even see that dude. I hit him. He came out of nowhere,” Sgt. Lopez testified on Tuesday, as Ms. Nikac’s daughter wept. 

The prosecution also brought Det. Carlos Pantoja to the stand. He was part of the crime scene unit that investigated the car’s interior at an Internal Affairs Bureau unit located at 3280 Broadway in Manhattan. 

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