News

Witnesses: Speeding Off-Duty Cop Hits, Kills Pedestrian On Staten Island

Police: Joseph McClean, 29, Faces Vehicular Manslaughter, Other Charges
Police at the scene of a fatal hit-and-run accident on Staten Island on Oct. 4, 2013. (credit: CBS 2)

Police at the scene of a fatal hit-and-run accident on Staten Island on Oct. 4, 2013. (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It was a tragic accident on Staten Island. A middle-aged pedestrian was killed and the driver of the SUV that allegedly hit him is an off-duty police officer.

That officer was arraigned on manslaughter and other charges late Friday afternoon, CBS 2’s John Slattery reported.

Witnesses said Joseph McClean, 29, was at the wheel of his personal vehicle which plowed into a pedestrian, killing him.

The victim, William “Bruce” Hemphill, 51, was from Tillman Island, Md., but worked as an operating engineer out of Staten Island. A picture obtained by CBS 2 shows the impact of the crash on the front of the officer’s Ford Escape. A deli operator said he heard an enormous impact.

“Pound, like big hit, pound,” Ala Kalbourneh said. “I see him lying down in the street a block away.”

It happened on Richmond Terrace at around 6:20 a.m. on Friday. One witness said the vehicle was speeding.

“Guy was coming from this way, high speed, 80 to 90, flying. Guy here, hit him. Rolled over, then flipped and flipped and flipped. And over and sped off real fast, came back about five minutes later,” neighbor Tom Ramirez said.

Ramirez said police arrived and he heard the driver admit to hitting the pedestrian.

“Next thing I know, guy was standing behind me and said ‘I did it. I did it.’ He threw his hands up and they told him to sit on the curb,” Ramirez said.

Kalbourneh said he had just sold Hemphill his lunch for later and was also the victim’s landlord.

“He’s a good guy. One of the good guys I ever seen. I know him like seven to eight years,” he told Slattery.

Hemphill worked across the street at Great Lakes Dredge and Dock.

“He’s got a wife, raising two grandkids, has an older son. Sole provider of family, I do know that. Just a good guy,” said Harry Ellis, the victim’s co-worker.

McClean, who works out of the 121st Precinct on Staten Island, was taken into custody and charged with second-degree vehicular manslaughter, driving while intoxicated and driving while alcohol-impaired, police said.

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