The New York City Council is calling for a new alert system to help bring hit-and-run drivers to justice after the death of a popular Latin DJ in December 2016.
Jean Paul Guerrero, also known as DJ Jinx Paul on La Mega 97.9, was killed on Dec. 19 while crossing the street in Brooklyn. The 39-year-old was leaving a club appearance when police said he was struck by a dark-colored sedan at the intersection of Jamaica Avenue at Sheffield Avenue.
Guerrero was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
On Wednesday, City Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez was joined by other council members to propose a hit-and-run alert system, which would allow images like the surveillance video used in Guerrero’s case to get out quickly, CBS2’s Magdalena Doris reported.
“The next logical step, is to use the AMBER Alert system that we use to find missing children and apply it to the hit-and-run situation where we ask the public to help the law enforcement to find those who commit the crime of leaving the scene,” City Council member Vincent Gentile said.
Under the system, a city agency would send out an email or text alerts helping residents to keep an eye out for suspected vehicles following a hit-and-run incident.
“Hit-and-runs are an epidemic in New York City that we are determined to eradicate,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez has also proposed an automatic $1,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of a hit-and-run driver.
“It’s unacceptable that 90 percent of people who commit hit-and-runs are walking away without even being arrested,” City Councilman Mark Levine said.
“Today, we want to put an end to that. We want to make sure more drivers are caught and more convictions are made in these cases,” Rodriguez added.
Within one day, police released surveillance video of a car believed to have killed Guerrero. Four days after the fatal crash, police thought they got a break in the case when 27-year-old Kevin Ozoria turned himself in and claimed responsibility for the hit-and-run.
He was charged with leaving the scene of the accident and tampering with evidence, but the district attorney declined to prosecute, citing a lack of evidence.
In Guerrero’s case, family and friends are still searching for answers.
“The person who killed, who murdered DJ Jinx Paul is still on the loose,” New York State assemblywoman Carmen de la Rosa said. “And if we would have had this alert in New York City maybe that person would have had already come before the justice.”
Police say they are now looking for three women described as persons of interest in connection to Guerrero’s death. Investigators say the three women, who were seen on surveillance video, were passengers inside of Ozoria’s car prior to the collision and believe they could lead them closer to learning what happened the night Guerrero died.
“We here just basically asking for justice for whoever did the hit and run,” Gina Zarate, a family representative, said. “We’re after you, we’re here, and we’re not going to rest until we find you.”
Out of 39 fatal hit-and-run cases in 2016, only 13 resulted in arrests.
City council members in support of the bill are confident that it will be pass here in New York. Similar laws has been enacted in Los Angeles and San Francisco.