A former New York City police officer has been charged in a 26-count indictment after allegedly driving drunk, jumping a curb and striking four pedestrians on a busy Williamsburg sidewalk earlier this summer.
According to police, 28-year-old Nicholas Batka of Greenpoint was drinking with friends in the early morning hours of July 16 at Williamsburg bar The Whiskey before he decided to get behind the wheel of his Dodge Durango. At about 3 a.m., the Durango jumped the curb in the vicinity of Bedford Avenue and North Eighth Street, striking four people (one of whom, 21-year-old Andrew Esquivel, was killed) and crashing through a wrought iron fence into the front of a building at 161 Bedford Avenue.
Cell phone video of the scene shows Batka — a probationary officer assigned to the Manhattan Transit Task Force at the time — attempting to leave the scene, but being prevented by passersby.
The indictment includes aggravated vehicular homicide, manslaughter and vehicular assault, among other charges.
“It’s outrageous that this defendant – a New York City police officer at the time – chose to get behind the wheel while drunk, and caused a deadly and horrific car crash,” said District Attorney Ken Thompson. “His poor decision took the life of a promising young man and left three others with injuries they’ll suffer from for life. We will now hold this defendant accountable for the immeasurable damages that he caused on the streets of Brooklyn that night.”
The three other victims — 20-year-old Sophia Tabchhouri, 24-year-old James Balchunas and 20-year-old Divya Menezes — suffered serious injuries and continue to receive extensive medical treatment.
Batka — previously released with a newly suspended license on $300,000 bail — sustained minor injuries that night and was taken to a local hospital, where he refused to submit to a blood test. His blood-alcohol level two hours after the crash was measured at .23, according to Thompson.
He faces up to 25 years in prison, and was fired from the force a few days after the incident.