A special grand jury on Thursday returned no criminal charges against the driver of the car that killed a black man fleeing from a group of baseball-bat wielding white youths in the Howard Beach racial attack.
"I feel like this is Day 1 of my life--a new beginning," said Dominick Blum, 24, who was driving the car that struck Michael Griffith, 23, on Dec. 20, 1986, when he ran onto a Queens highway to escape from the group.
The grand jury was asked to consider whether Blum, a court officer and son of a retired police officer, had left the scene of an accident knowing an injury had occurred, said Charles Hynes, the special prosecutor appointed by Gov. Mario M. Cuomo to investigate the attack.
"The grand jury determined Dominick Blum did not leave the scene of the accident knowing that he hit another human being," Hynes said. "The grand jury heard all of the evidence that was legally sufficient and made a determination."
Blum, who could have faced a felony charge that carries a maximum penalty of up to four years in prison, said the grand jury's decision convinced him that the justice system works but "only if responsible members of the community cooperate with authorities."
But a lawyer for a black survivor of the attack--Cedrick Sandiford, 36--questioned why Sandiford had not been called to testify.
Sandiford's lawyers had alleged that Blum was among the youths who attacked Griffith, Sandiford and Timothy Grimes, 20, after the three black men went to a pizzeria in Howard Beach, a predominantly white section of Queens.