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MTA Officer Accused Of Hitting Pedestrian With Patrol Car, Trying To Cover Up Crash

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- An MTA Bridges and Tunnels police officer is accused of hitting a pedestrian with his patrol car, then driving the victim several miles before dumping him on the side of the road.

The Brooklyn district attorney's office says Lawrence Ffrench was on duty when he injured the man, failed to help him, then tried to hide what happened.

After court, Ffrench's defense attorney went on the offensive, CBS2's Tony Aiello reported.

"He's absolutely the victim. He's wrongfully accused. And we look forward to clearing his name, which we will do," Vess Mitev said.

The attorney claims it's an incredible mis-justice against MTA Bridges and Tunnels Officer Lawrence Ffrench. He's charged with leaving the scene of an accident and threatening the victim.

"Cowardly and outrageous," said Jeff Rothman, who represents the victim – 41-year-old Julio Canete.

The district attorney says Ffrench was on patrol when he struck and injured Canete on the Brooklyn side of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.

Prosecutors claim Ffrench loaded the injured man into his patrol car, drove him across the bridge to Staten Island, and dumped him near Tompkins and Wadsworth.

As the victim called 911 on his cellphone, the district attorney says Ffrench drove back to Brooklyn, got his personal car, returned to the scene in Staten Island and allegedly confronted the victim inside the ambulance.

"He leans over my client and in an intimidating voice says to him in sum and substance, 'don't say it was me,'" Rothman said.

The lawyer for the cop has a very different story.

"He served the thin blue line. He is the victim here, he's the victim of what's known of as 'cash grab,' when somebody tries to get hit by a police car and then sue the city, which is exactly what has happened here," Mitev said.

"Absolute nonsense. My client was victimized by a law enforcement officer who treated him like a piece of garbage," Rothman replied.

According to his social media accounts, Ffrench is also qualified as an EMT, Aiello reported.

He pleaded not guilty Thursday and was released without bail.

The MTA is calling these allegations "deeply troubling," and has suspended Ffrench pending the outcome of the criminal case against him.

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