Accused Drunk Driver Charged In Death Of Cop

Highway and Road DisastersTransportation DisastersHomicideNew York City Police Department

A man accused of driving drunk and starting a chain-reaction crash that's killed a Nassau County Cop was charged today.

25 year old James Ryan, of Oakdale, was charged with vehicular manslaughter, reckless endangerment and driving under the influence. 

Today, while being escorted to his arraignment at Hempstead court, Ryan turned to a few cameras and sent his condolences to 43 year old Officer Joseph Oliveri and the family he left behind.

"He's suffering. His heart and condolences go out to the family," said his attorney, Brian Davis.

Inside court today, his mother wept while listening to a judge formally deliver the charges. He is being charged with vehicular manslaughter, reckless endangerment and DWI. On Thursday, investigators allege Ryan got behind a wheel drunk and slammed into a BMW near exit 33 then kept going. His car eventually stopped in the HOV lane causing a Honda Civic to crash into him. Officer Oliveri responded to the crash to help Ryan. Thats when investigators say an Escalade clipped the officer and killed him.

"If he wasn't on the road, this never would have happened," said Nassau County Police Benevolent Association James Carver. 

According to a felony complaint, Ryan was swerving in and out of lanes. Investigators say Ryan tried to flee the scene. His blood alcohol level was a .09, above the legal limit. Cops also found Adderall in his pocket. 

Ryan's attorney, Brian Davis, questions the manslaughter charge. And plans to argue that the Ryan's actions did lead to Oliveri's death.

"Is he the cause of the police officer being struck by the escalade?" 

Officer Oliveri left behind two children and a fiancé. He served on the NYPD before spending 13 years as a Nassau PD officer.

Funeral is set for noon on Sunday at St. Joseph's in Ronkokoma.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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