Cooper Stock was holding his father’s hand. That’s what he always did when he crossed the street, even though he was already 9 years old, even when the street was right in front of his apartment building at West End Avenue and 97th Street in New York City, even though he had been crossing this same street his whole life.
He did this because it was the right thing to do, and his parents had taught him to do the right thing. So he held his daddy’s hand, looked both ways and stepped off the curb toward home.
His father, Richard Stock, was also doing the right thing shortly before 9 p.m. that drizzly January night. After a father-son dinner of fried chicken and chocolate cream pie, he and Cooper opted to take a cab back uptown, and the driver dropped them off at the southeast corner. Usually they got out on the northeast one, giving them one less street to cross, but really, what difference did it make? So Richard took Cooper’s hand, waited for the red neon hand to become a white neon man, then looked both ways and walked.
Koffi Komlani was doing the right thing, too. At least he insisted so to the police. He’d also had the light on 97th Street, and he drove his taxi, a 2010 Ford, License 6796A, into the intersection just as the Stocks started to cross. He didn’t see them, Komlani would tell the officers who were on the scene minutes after he made his left-hand turn into the crosswalk; after the father and son were knocked onto the bright yellow hood; after Richard rolled off to the left, then down the passenger’s side, injuring his leg; after Cooper was thrown to the right, in front of — then completely under — first the front and then the rear driver’s-side wheels. READ MORE