As the mother of slain cyclist Mathieu Lefevre sat stoically in the second row of the gallery, lawyers for the New York Police Department tried to explain to a judge why it has taken more than five months to comply with her Freedom of Information request information about how he died.
Questioned by Supreme Court Judge Peter Moulton, the Lefevre family’s lawyer, Steve Vaccaro, laid out the history of the case. For weeks after Lefevre’s death, the NYPD refused to provide the family with any information about its investigation into Lefevre’s death — in fact, it was more communicative with the truck driver who killed Lefevre, and with the press, who were told by officers soon after the crash that there was no criminality in Lefevre’s death.
Vacarro argued that the police can’t tell the Lefevres they can’t have any information because of an ongoing investigation if they’re also telling the press the accident wasn’t a crime on the part of the driver.
Here Judge Moulton stopped Vaccaro: “I don’t want to be cynical about this,” he said. “but isn’t that what government does, spin the press?”
Vaccaro answered that one of the reasons for the Freedom of Information Law, under which the Lefevres requested the information on November 1, is to provide a corrective for the government’s ability to spin, lie, and sweep inconvenient truths under the rug.
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