MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Three boys growing up without a father joined their widowed mother in a courtroom on Thursday. What they heard angered them and police officers — a plea deal for a drowsy driver who took an officer’s life.
“These are the guys that are supposed to protect us and this is how you treat them? Wrong,” said Mike Califano, the father of Officer Michael Califano, who was killed in February 2011 crash on the Long Island Expressway.
On the night of his death, Officer Califano, a 12-year veteran of the Nassau County Police Department and assigned to Highway Patrol, was pulling over one driver when he was hit by a flatbed truck. That commercial truck driver from Connecticut, John Kaley, claimed he fell asleep at the wheel. He pleaded guilty to reckless driving, which means there will be no time behind bars, CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.
Kaley had his license revoked and was ordered to pay a $500 fine, WCBS 880′s Sophia Hall reported.
“There is no justice in New York State. He killed somebody and he is walking and no charges,” said Donna Califano-Mei, the officer’s sister.
“You’re a professional driver. You’re tired, you pull over,” added Ed Califano, the officer’s brother.
Prosecutors threw out the top charge of criminally negligent homicide because they said it wouldn’t have stuck. They cited the acquittal of Ophadell Williams, the bus driver who fell asleep at the wheel in the Bronx, killing 15 people.
“Where do you draw the line between what is an accident and what is criminal?” Nassau County Assistant District Attorney Maureen McCormick said.
Kaley was too emotional to read his statement to the Califano family.
“There is truly not a day that goes by that he doesn’t think of the Califano family and what they are going through,” attorney William Petrillo said.
Prosecutors are also lobbying to use traffic camera video in crashes like the one that killed Officer Califano to support cases against drivers who fall asleep at the wheel.
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