As tensions between police and civilians are mounting nationwide, there has been yet another fatal interaction—this time between an off-duty police officer and several college students in New York City. This past Saturday, off-duty NYPD officer Nicholas Batka slammed his SUV into a group of pedestrians, killing one.
Batka, 28, was slated to begin his shift at 7 a.m. He was very clearly intoxicated around 3 a.m. when he drove his gray 2012 Dodge Durango into a group of college students hanging out in Brooklyn. 21-year-old Andrew Esquivel died at the hospital from his injuries. The victim was a California native and rising senior at MIT on a full scholarship. He worked at Appboy digital marketing frim and was living in East Village for the summer, according to the New York Post.
Those who knew Esquivel, pictured above, described him to the Boston Globe as “one of the brightest people they knew,” an “extraordinary thinker,” and “confident and driven.”
Batka also drove into three other students, who all survived but remain in the hospital. Sophia Tabchouri, 20, James Balchunas, 24, and Divya Menezes, 23, sustained injuries ranging from severe to critical. All three required surgery. The four victims were walking with a larger group who were inches away from being injured as well.
After Batka’s lost control of his SUV and plowed into the group, bystanders rushed to help. One of the witnesses, Ryan Carpenter, tried to provide comfort to the victims. “I ran over and this girl’s leg was in half,” he said to the New York Daily News. “I took my shirt off and tried to stop her from bleeding while trying to calm her. She kept screaming.”
NYPD officer Nicolas Batka. Accused of driving drunk, plowing thru crowd, killing man in Williamsburg. pic.twitter.com/O7IRTnb5Jp
— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaanKim) July 17, 2016
Trapped by a utility pole he crashed into, Batka then shifted to the passenger seat in an attempt to exit the car. Bystanders held the SUV door shut so he could not exit and run away.
When police arrived, Batka refused a breathalyzer test, but it was very obvious that he was intoxicated. Batka was arrested on sight and later fired from the NYPD. The NY Post reported that the two police officers who were out drinking with Batka that night were also stripped of their guns and badges for failing to keep Batka from getting behind the wheel.
The charges against Batka include manslaughter, vehicular homicide, three counts of assault, driving with impaired ability and driving on a sidewalk according to NY Daily News. His brother, John, accidentally died of an alcohol and cocaine overdose last year. Batka has been released on $300,000 bail, but the judge suspended his driver’s license while he awaits a formal trial.