In an unprecedented case, a Long Island man was sentenced up to 12 years in the death of a Nassau County police officer even though he was not the driver of the vehicle that struck the officer.
The police officer involved in the incident, officer Joseph Olivieri, was responding to multiple crashes that were caused by James Ryan on the Long Island Expressway. It was during that stop that another driver struck Ryan’s car and then fatally struck Officer Olivieri.
Ryan was remorseful at his sentencing stating “I want to say to the Olivieri family, words don't express how deeply sorry I am for your loss and the officer was a very great man and I deeply regret he lost his life that night.”
Under the guidelines of his sentencing, Ryan will serve a minimum of five years and had previously faced up to 20 years in prison resulting from the 10 counts on which he was convicted.
This case was closely followed by legal experts since it is very rare for an individual other than the driver of the vehicle to be charged in a crash. The charges Ryan faced stemmed from a legal principle of “causation/foreseeability”, where a suspect is charged in events where their actions had foreseeable results.
A similar case from the early 90’s used the same principle after a NYC man was convicted of murder after an officer fell through a skylight to his death after a police chase that ensued from a robbery investigation.
Ryan’s defense attorney stated they plan to appeal the conviction.